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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that it will create electronic platforms for submission of nomination forms by political parties and other activities in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections to minimise physical contacts over fear of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was contained in a policy document released and signed by INEC Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood.
Other aspects of the election that will be conducted electronically include tracking of campaign funds by candidates and political parties, accreditation of observer groups, submission of party agents lists by political parties and engagement with stakeholders.
The Commission will also reduce the number of accredited Observer Groups based on past performance and compliance with Commission’s guidelines for election observation, “this is to reduce crowding and therefore health risks at election venues”.
Voters and other persons participating in the electoral process must wear face masks while anyone showing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus will be isolated from others.
“The use of face masks is mandatory for all involved in the election process and must be worn at all election locations. The Commission shall provide face masks for all election officials.
“Alcohol based hand sanitisers will be provided for election officials at the polling units. Methylated Spirit and cotton wool will be provided for the disinfection of the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) after the fingerprint of each voter is read.
“The rules of physical distancing shall be enforced at all election activities including stakeholder engagements, training, queuing at Polling Units, etc.
“All protocols issued by the NCDC, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, State Committees on COVID-19 and other relevant health authorities shall be observed by election officials and all stakeholders.
It added: “Conducting elections in a pandemic such as COVID-19 is yet uncharted waters. Only very few jurisdictions have any experience with this.
“That notwithstanding, the Commission is committed to conducting all elections that are due within the extant legal framework.
“However, in so doing it will put a premium on public safety and mitigation of health risks from COVID-19.
“Citizens must be assured that they will be safe while participating as voters, candidates and officials. The
Commission remains committed to raising public confidence in the electoral process in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic and to regularly communicate its actions and challenges to the public.
“This would from time to time occasion alterations in its procedures, rules and regulations, as is the case with the present policy.
“The broad objective of this policy framework is therefore, to prepare the Commission to respond to the effects on the electoral process of the twin challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and looming cuts in government spending and to communicate these to its stakeholders”.
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