The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will “work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021.”

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest economy, still votes and collates manually, even though registration for voting has been digitized.

However, human interference in a chunk of the balloting process has led to results being contested in courtrooms following allegations of widespread rigging.

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, during a presentation in 2019 (Guardian)
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, during a presentation in 2019 (Guardian)

In a policy document, INEC boss Mahmood Yakubu, wrote that the electoral umpire will trial 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.”

Guidelines for Edo and Ondo elections

The commission will also adopt electronic platforms for the submission of nomination forms by political parties ahead of governorship elections billed to take place this year.

In the Edo and Ondo elections scheduled for September 16 and October 10 respectively, face masks will be mandatory for voters stepping into polling units, the commission has announced, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A candidate appending his signature on a Certificate of Return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2019 (INEC). [Twitter/@inecnigeria]
A candidate appending his signature on a Certificate of Return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2019 (INEC). [Twitter/@inecnigeria]

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 PU 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.

Face masks locally made from Nigerian fabrics. [NAN]
Face masks locally made from Nigerian fabrics. [NAN]

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.”