National Electoral Commission (INEC), under the leadership of Prof. Attahiru Jega, introduced innovations that would make the 2015 general elections in Nigeria free and fair.
In past elections, some political parties used certain methods to rig elections, which included paying the ad-hoc staff and party agents to enable them share the remaining ballot papers and so on.
But in the 2015 general elections, these methods would fail as the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has introduced innovations including four ad-hoc personnel in one unit, which would comprise a presiding officer (PO) and three assistant presiding officers (APOs).
INEC has also created voting points for units that have over 750 votes and above, to be manned by additional ad-hoc staff called the voting point presiding officers (VPPO) and four voting point assistant presiding officer (VPAPO), totaling 9 ad-hoc personnel in one unit. All these are necessary to save time and avoid rigging.
Also introduced is the card reader machine which would be used for accreditation exercise before voting.
These were outlined at a three-day workshop organised by INEC in Omuma local government area in Rivers State.
According to the resource personnel, the accreditation starts 8.00am – 1pm while voting starts at 1.30pm to the time the last accredited voter on the queue would cast his/her vote.
Presiding Officer (PO) would be in charge of all the activities of the various polling units, while assistant presiding officer 1 (APO1) will use the card reader to accredit the voters. APO 11 would verify from the manual register the names of the voters.
The duty of APO III would be to control the queue stand during voting, so that people who come late would not participate during voting and also help the elderly and pregnant women to cast their votes before others who are on the queue.
Again, the Voting Point Ado-hoc official (VP) and VP1-4 would also be carrying out their functions like that of PO and APOs1-3 at the same time, during voting.
The INEC has also introduced super rega where all the materials and results of various units would be collated and submitted. This super rega would comprise about three wards in one local government area. The super rega would be manned by supervisory presiding officer (SPO).
Also at the close of elections, the POs would receive the result of VP ad hoc staff and emerge with the other results and submit same to the super rega officer who will submit to the local government area returning officer, together with the card reader machine. Any information that is not found in the card reader machine, nullifies the result.
Again, during the elections all the ballot papers issued at a unit would conforms with the unit and must be stamped, signed and dated by the APO II for the three elections, like the presidential election, Senate and Representatives which come up on 28th March 2015, while the voters are advised to cast their votes secretly using the culpable and fold their ballot papers vertically to avoid spoiled votes.
This time two official INEC stamps would be used, one for the PO and the other one is for the APO11 . The PO will use his stamp on the result while the APO 11 will use his stamp on the ballot.
There shall also be ticking of manuel register, right for voting while left for accreditation. Several bag envelopes would also be provided, such as EC 50 (a) for spoilt ballot papers.
Three ballot boxes would also be provided, with different covers, red for president and governors’, black for senate and state Assembly while sliver would be for House of Representatives . Any ballot paper wrongly cast into the wrong ballot box would be invalid.
Various forms would also be provided including incident form for voters who the card reader fail to accredit , but their names found in the manual register.
During accreditation, a card would be issued to voters who would be accredited by the card reader machine to show that they have been properly accredited for voting.
One party agent would represent each political party at the polling units, while security agents and accredited journalists would also be allowed into the polling units after being cleared by the PO.
Different results sheets shall be designed, such as EC 8 (a) for President and Governor, EC 8(a) (1) for Senate and State Assembly and EC8 (a) (2) for Reps. All these forms form the sensitive materials which must be handled carefully by the PO and VPPO.
The most interesting innovation of the 2015 general elections is the introduction of card reader machine that would be used for accreditation of voters, which would be operated by the APO1 and VPAPO 1.
How to operate the card reader machine
Powering the Card Reader,
Step 1; Press the red button at the bottom right of the main key area to put on the card reader. Step 2. Type 123 under password. Step 3 it shows DONE, Step 4 press login. This will take you to the functions screen.
Verifying the Permanent Voter Card (PVC)
Step 1; Press the verification icon on the functions screen, step 2; Place the PVC at the back of the card reader at the topmost region on the card reading area (the PVC should touch the machine).
Step 3; Press one of the lower yellow side keys on either side of the card reader to read the PVC or press the head icon on the bottom left of the functions screen.
Authenticating/scanning the fingerprint:
Step 1; ask the voter to place his/her right or left thumb or index finger on the fingerprint window
Step 2; press the finger icon on the screen to authenticate the fingerprints of the voter, step 3; look out for mark good or mark bad on the functions screen.
Note: the card reader is vocal during the verification process. Once a voter places his/her finger on the fingerprint window, the card reader will indicate verbally either “authentication passed” (and when it show a green marked “good” sign on the screen or indicate verbally “authentication failed (and then show a “red” marked “bad” sign on the screen).
If marked GOOD, press the upper yellow button on either side of the card reader to finish and go back to the functions window for verification of the next voter.
If marked “BAD”, follow the steps provided in the procedures manual.
To Retrieve Totals
Step 1; Press query to get the total number of success and fail authentications, step 2; press the back arrow on the screen to go back to the functions window
Step 1; Press close V to get the total accredited, passes total and failed total. step 2; press confirm to go back to the function window.
Note: Only press close V at the end of accreditation and not before.
Step 3; press communicate to send status to the server. (the card reader would automatically shut the user out).
Note: Only press communicate to send to the server after you have pressed closed – V to close the authentication process.
Each card reader is configured for a particular unit only in every local government area, with its password.
However, the POs and APO1-3 and VPPOs and VPPAPO 1-4 are advised to resume duty eve of the elections to be in custody of their non-sensitive and sensitive materials which would be distributed at the each of the super rega centres by the supervisory presiding officer (SPO).
Therefore, if all the INEC innovations are followed to the latter, political parties that are depending on rigging would fail because the innovations have no room for rigging.