Ekiti 2022: Yiaga Africa’s Third Pre-election Observation Report

Ekiti Election; Another Litmus test for INEC on the Adoption of Technology

June 18, 2022, Ekiti governorship election will  be the second governorship election where  the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System  (BVAS) will be deployed for the accreditation  of voters. The BVAS has been deployed for the  accreditation of voters in the Isoko-South 1  State Constituency bye-election in Delta State  in September 2021. The BVAS was also  deployed in the November 2021 Anambra  governorship election, the February 2022 FCT  Area Council Election and in the March 2022  bye-elections in Ondo, Cross Rivers, Jos and  Imo States. While the BVAS achieved  reasonable success in the bye-elections, their  deployment in statewide elections like the  Anambra governorship election and the FCT  area council election was marred with  widespread reports of the BVAS not  functioning adequately and experiencing  other challenges which led to the extension of  voting time on election day.

The Ekiti election  presents another opportunity for the  assessment of the functionality of the BVAS  and the capacity of INEC to resolve all  challenges observed with the BVAS  deployment in Anambra and FCT. This is  particularly important because the new  Electoral Act in section 47(2)(3), makes it  mandatory for the deployment of the  technological device for accreditation of  voters with a requirement to suspend the  election in a polling unit where the device fails  to accredit voters and to continue the process  within 24 hours if the results from the polling  unit will substantially affect the final result of  the election. The BVAS now plays a central  role in safeguarding elections and in  guaranteeing that technical glitches do not  disenfranchise every eligible voter who turns  out to vote.

Accordingly, the Independent National  Electoral Commission (INEC) is responsible  for ensuring that the BVAS functions optimally in the Ekiti state election. This will need INECs  commitment to ensuring the mock voter  accreditation exercise to test the  effectiveness of the BVAS is conducted ahead  of the Ekiti election as stated during the  quarterly stakeholders meeting held on May  11, 2022. Beyond the issues on the BVAS  deployment, the Ekiti election will also serve  as a test to assess INECs capacity to manage  the perennial logistical challenges observed in  previous elections and its ability to inspire  confidence in the process. 

The findings indicate ongoing preparatory  activities by INEC and compliance with the  Election schedule of activities. For instance,  the official publication of voters register in all  16 LGAs from 19 May 2022, while the final  candidate list was published in the capital and  2 other LGAs. According to the final list of  registered voters as released by INEC to  Political Parties in Ekiti on May 18, 2022,  988,923 registered voters are eligible to  participate in the election of these 720,724  have collected their permanent voters cards  as of May 18, 2022. A further breakdown of  registered voters by demography revealed  that 502,906 (51%) are females and 486,017  (49%) are males. The Youths (18-34)  constitutes 38.56% of the total voters.  Political party campaigns were observed  across the state with more reports of voter  inducement received. This is closely related to  the increasing adoption of door-to-door  campaigns making it easier for direct voter  inducement.
 
This is the third Pre-Election Observation  Report (PREO), with findings based on reports  received from the Watching the Vote Long  term observers LTOs) deployed in each of the  16 LGAs in Ekiti state.

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#WatchingTheVote is a citizen led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections in Nigeria using technological tools like sms and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation.

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