The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will introduce electronic voting (e-voting) in major elections starting from 2021.
This was contained in a 17-page “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic” released on Monday in Abuja and signed by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
In the policy document, Yakubu said INEC will try the use of e-voting machines at the earliest possible time, after the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections, but will also “work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021.”
The commission will also adopt electronic platforms for the submission of nomination forms by political parties ahead of Edo and Ondo governorship elections billed for September 16 and October 10 this year respectively,
The INEC also added that voters without face masks would be disallowed from stepping into polling units and voting in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Electoral officials, adhoc staff, security personnel and observers monitoring the vote will also sport face masks in the governorship elections in both states.
Polling areas will be redesigned to ensure substantial compliance with established protocols such as social and physical distancing.
“In order to accommodate additional activities in setting up the Polling Unit due to COVID-19, polls shall now commence at 8.30 am and close at 2.30 pm,” the commission said, adding that personal protective equipment and other safety materials will be provided for polling staff.
The commission also announced that infrared thermometers will be used at the various collation centres, alcohol-based hand sanitisers will be provided at the polling units for election officials while methylated spirit and cotton wool will be provided for the disinfection of the smart card readers after the fingerprint of each voter is read.
The commission added that it would regularly clean up the biometric register of voters while continuous voter registration is suspended “for the time being to prevent the health risks associated with it in the context of COVID-19.”