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Here’s The New INEC Policy For Electronic Voting

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released a new policy for the coming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.

The new rule that was signed by by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Monday in Abuja titled “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

The document obtained from INEC website contains 17 pages which address health and legal issues, election planning and operations, election day and post-election activities, voter registration, political parties, election observation, electoral security and deployment of technology.

Read the new INEC policy below.

Purpose
The purpose of this policy is to enable officials and staff of the Commission
to understand and respond adequately to the challenges of conducting
elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its health and financial
implications, and to provide a guide for engagement with stakeholders during
elections.

Authority
Section 160 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) empowers the Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC) to by rules or otherwise, regulate its own
procedure or confer powers and impose duties on any officer or authority for
the purpose of discharging its functions. The Commission is also empowered
by Section 153 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to issue regulations,
guidelines and manuals for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of the
Act.

Scope
This policy shall apply to all elections and electoral activities of the Commission
during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responsible Party
All officials and staff of the Commission.

POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC 3

1. POLICY STATEMENT
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an
extensive impact on the electoral
process in Nigeria. Not only has it
led to far-reaching disruptions in
the electoral system, it has also
specifically led to the postponement
of elections and created
uncertainties about scheduled ones.
The Commission, cognizant of the
profound impact of the pandemic
on the electoral process, extensively
deliberated on how best to respond
to the impact of the pandemic on
election administration. The situation
is made worse by the global economic
impact of the pandemic and its
knock-on effect on the Nigerian
economy, which has seen a decline
in funding for government activities.
Expectedly, this trend will also
affect the work of the Commission.
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.

POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
4
2. HEALTH ISSUES
The most immediate challenge
that COVID-19 poses to the electoral
process is health related. In order to
protect voters, election officials and
other stakeholders in the electoral
process, the Commission shall
implement the following:
A. General Protective Measures
i. Infrared thermometers will
be supplied and used at the
Registration Area Collation
Centres, the Local Government
Area Collation Centres and the
State Collation Centres.
ii. The use of face masks is
mandatory for all involved in the
election process and must be
worn at all election locations.
iii. The Commission shall provide
face masks for all election officials.
iv. Alcohol based hand sanitizers will
be provided for election officials
at the polling units.
v. 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.
vi. The rules of physical distancing
shall be enforced at all election
activities including stakeholder
engagements, training, queuing
at Polling Units, etc.
vii. 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.
viii.The Commission shall work with
the PTF and health authorities to
have in place a system of voluntary
COVID-19 testing for INEC staff
before and after deploying for
elections.
B. Voters and Election Officials
Showing Symptoms of COVID – 19
i. The Commission shall work with
the Presidential Task Force on
COVID-19 and health authorities
in the States having elections to
develop a protocol for dealing with
persons who show symptoms of
COVID-19 at election venues.
ii. Where an election official, a voter
or any other person present at an
election venue shows symptoms
of COVID-19:
• the prevailing protocol shall be
observed;
• the person must be isolated

POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
5
3. LEGAL ISSUES
i. As already announced by the
Commission, the dates for the
Governorship elections in Edo
and Ondo States remain 19th
September 2020 and 10th October
2020 respectively. Dates for the
four postponed bye-elections in
Bayelsa, Imo and Plateau States,
as well as other bye-elections that
become due during the COVID-19
pandemic will be announced by
the Commission following its
established procedures.
ii. The Commission will engage
with the legislature and other
stakeholders to explore ways
of responding to the rising
cost of conducting frequent
bye-elections, especially in
consideration of the Supreme
Court position that votes belong
primarily to political parties, as
well as the Commission’s records,
which show that only in 10% of all
bye-elections since 2015 did the
party that won originally lose the
election.
iii. The Commission will engage
relevant authorities, including
the legislature, to designate
election as an essential service to
enable the Commission function
effectively in times of national
emergency.
from other persons at the venue;
• the attention of the security
personnel should be drawn;
• the dedicated number for COVID
– 19 emergencies shall be called;
and
• if the affected person is an
election official, the Commission
must be notified through the
Resident Electoral Commissioner
(REC)..

POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
6
4. PLANNING ELECTIONS
The Commission shall revamp
its election planning and
implementation—monitoring
processes in the light of
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consequently, the Commission
in planning elections shall:
i. Reflect and take full cognizance
of the impact of the COVID-19
pandemic on election service
delivery. All election activities
shall be evaluated on the extent
to which they recognize the likely
effects of the pandemic on their
timely and successful execution.
ii. Update and strictly implement an
Electoral checklist of indicators
that mainstreams COVID-19 for
use in monitoring and tracking
performance over time and
space.
iii. Undertake strategic consultation
and consensus building with
stakeholders on key changes
in its procedures due to the
COVID-19 crisis.
iv. R e s p o n d t o t h e g r o w i n g
demand for deepening the use
of technology in the electoral
p r o c e s s e s , i n c l u d i n g t h e
introduction of electronic voting.
v. Develop a new election budget
template to reflect the likely
impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
on the funding profile of electoral
activities.
vi. Constantly re-evaluate planned
electoral activities in the light of
COVID-19 and the health risks
it poses for voters, stakeholders
and staff during elections, and
implement mitigating measures
in consultation with health
authorities.
vii. Integrate its various planning and
monitoring tools – Election Risk
Management (ERM), Election
Management System (EMS) and
Electoral Operations Support
Centre (EOSC) into a robust
system for delivering electoral
services during the COVID-19
pandemic and beyond.
viii.Undertake risk mitigation
strategies, including innovative
ways of conducting election
activities that will mitigate risk to
health and safety of voters and
election officials.
ix. Continuously update election
readiness assessments and
regularly share information from
them with stakeholders.
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
7
5. ELECTORAL OPERATIONS
A. Pre-election activities
i. The Commission shall:
a. I m m e d i a te l y e m ba rk o n
a rev i ew o f re g u l a t i o n s ,
guidelines and manuals
for elections in the light of
changes to the electoral
process that are imminent due
to the COVID-19 pandemic.
b. Develop a Voter Code of
Conduct (VCC) document
detailing how voters are
expected to act and conduct
themselves at the polling units
in the light of the COVID-19
pandemic.
c. R e v i e w a l l E l e c t i o n
Information Kits to include
COVID-19 information.
d. Expand the Inter-Agency
Consultative Committee on
Election Security (ICCES) at
all levels to include NCDC (or
other requisite health bodies)
and NOA on a temporary
basis.
e. Mandate its State offices
to work with local health
authorities to do a health
assessment of upcoming
elections immediately.
f. Mainstream COVID-19 in
its election risk mapping
tools like the Election Risk
Management (ERM) and
Election Violence Mitigation
and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT).
g. C o n d u c t i m m e d i a t e
d i s c u s s i o n w i t h s t a t e
governments where elections
a r e t o h o l d c o n c e r n i n g
lockdowns, curfews, etc .
and how they might affect
elections.
h. Ensure that Pre-Election
Preparation (PEP) activities
shall be conducted online
preferably. Where face-to-face
activities become necessary,
the protocols for COVID-19
prevention should be followed.
i. Pilot changes to the electoral
process in the light of the
COVID-19 pandemic in a byeelection prior to the Edo and
Ondo Governorship elections
in order to learn lessons where
necessary.
ii. The Commission shall conduct an
immediate evaluation of its key
election facilities to ensure that
they are fit-for-purpose, including
Polling Units (PUs), Registration
Area Centres (RACs) and Collation
Centres. These facilities will
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
8
be reorganized to make them
more optimal to health and cost
considerations.
iii. In order to support improved
planning and deployment during
the COVID-19 pandemic, two key
spatial and mapping activities
shall be implemented namely,
geo-referencing of RAC locations
and mapping of COVID-19
prevalence.
iv. In handling and delivery of
election materials:
a. To reduce the number of
contacts during distribution,
when Non-sensitive Materials
are procured, they will be
delivered directly by vendors
to States or purchased
by States requiring the
materials and packaged
according to quantity
required by Registration Area.
This will reduce the level and
number of contacts during
distribution.
b. Ballot Papers and result sheets
(Sensitive Materials) shall be
packaged to Registration
Areas (RAs). Production of
Sensitive Materials shall
commence early to give
adequate time for proper
packaging and delivery.
v. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely
to adversely affect staffing for
elections. Consequently:
a. The Commission will engage
immediately with NYSC
and INEC State Offices to
evolve modalities for corps
members to serve as ad hoc
staff in elections during the
pandemic. The Commission’s
State offices will commence
identification of alternative
sources of ad hoc staff in line
with Commission policy, in
case there are shortfalls.
b. The Commission will:
• Ensure the use of electronic
and non-contact means
to recruit ad hoc staff by
deploying its INECPres
portal, as well as in notifying
ad hoc staff of invitations
and postings (for example,
use of SMS) to prevent large
gatherings at INEC offices
during staff deployment.
• The Electoral Operations and
Logistics Department (EOPs)
will harvest all past ad hoc
staff from its databases and
send to each State preparing
for elections.
• All ad hoc staff databases
i n t h e Co m m i s s i o n w i l l
be harmonized for better
management.
c. To reduce the risk of
transmission of COVID-19,
the Commission shall reduce
to a minimum interstate
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
9
movement of staff, including
ad hoc staff, for off-season and
bye elections. The rule shall be
that only shortfalls requested
by the States are filled from
outside the state. As much as
possible, all election staff will
be sourced in-state.
d. Transportation of election
staff shall comply with
COVID-19 containment
protocols. Consequently,
there shall be a reduction in
the number of passengers
per vehicle on election
day f rom 14 to 7 for buses,
and f rom 12 to 6 for boats.
Motorcycles and tricycles
must be used sparingly
with one passenger per
motorcycle and two per
tricycle. All passengers and
drivers must wear face masks
and it shall be mandatory
and the responsibility of
vehicle owners to provide
hand sanitizers for occupants
of their vehicles.
vi. For RAC activities:
a. S t a t e O f f i c e s o f t h e
Commission shall conduct a
thorough assessment of RACs
to determine their suitability
for elections. The designation
of RACs and Super RACs shall
be on a case by case basis,
having due regards for the
expanse of territory that they
serve, terrain and adequate
space.
b. Where there is insufficient
space in a RAC and no suitable
alternative facility is available
for a Super RAC option,
canopies may be deployed
outdoors to increase the
available area for use.
c. C O V I D – 1 9 a w a r e n e s s
shall be included in RAC
brief ing. Handouts, flyers
and information kit on the
pandemic will be distributed
to election staff at the RACs.
d. At the RACs, election staff may
be checked by RAC Managers
or Supervisory Presiding
Officers (SPOs) for COVID-19
symptoms such as high
temperature and coughing.
Staff showing symptoms will
receive medical attention
and be replaced immediately
from the reserve of staff, on
the approval of the Electoral
Officer and REC.
vii. In the establishment of Voting
Points, in order to reduce the
number of points in a Polling Unit
to be monitored and controlled
for COVID-19 compliance, the
threshold for Voting Points shall
be increased from 500/750 to
1,000/1,250.
B. Election Day activities
i. At the Polling Units during
elections:
a. In the light of the COVID-19
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
10
pandemic, the Polling Unit
layout shall be redesigned by
the Commission to ensure
substantial compliance with
the protocols established by
health authorities. Among
other things, social distancing,
general hygienic conduct and
enforcement of COVID-19
prevention protocols shall be
emphasized in the redesign.
b. There shall be a two-tier
queuing system at the Polling
Unit – one outside and the
other in the voting area. Voters
will be brought into the voting
area periodically to prevent
overcrowding. Tags and twines
may be used to ensure crowd
control and maintenance of
social distance.
c. 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. Anybody on the outer
queue by 2.30 pm shall be
allowed to vote, in line with
the Commission’s regulations.
d. Prior to the commencement
of polls, the Presiding Officer
or Assistant Presiding Officer
(VP) shall ensure that the
contents of the Voter Code of
Conduct (VCC) are read out
loudly to voters and that the
VCC Poster is pasted at the
Polling Unit.
e. Face masks shall be
mandatory at Polling Units
and all election locations. Any
voter without a face mask
shall be turned away from
the Polling Unit. However, the
Assistant Presiding Officer
(APO) II in checking the
Register of Voters may request
removal of mask to prevent
voter impersonation.
f. There shall be periodic
disinfection of chairs, tables
and work areas, as well as
adequate ventilation at the
Polling Units. The SCR shall be
cleaned with the prescribed
disinfectant after each voter’s
fingerprint is read.
g. P e r s o n a l P r o t e c t i v e
Equipment (PPE) and other
safety materials shall be
provided for polling staff.
h. At the close of polls, polling
unit staff shall ensure that
m a te r i a l s a r e p r o p e r l y
d i s i n f e c t e d , c a r e f u l l y
packaged and that used PPE
are hygienically packaged or
disposed of.
ii. For purposes of collation of results
after election:
a. The Commission will cluster
RA collation centres where
feasible, in order to reduce
exposure of people to the
risk of COVID-19, speed up
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
11
collation and reduce costs.
b. There shall be a designated
area at each Collation
Centre (outdoors) for the
implementation of the safety
and health measures such as
compulsory wearing of face
masks, hand sanitizing, body
temperature check, etc.
c. There shall be 2 metres (6ft)
queuing distancing for all
seeking to enter the collation
hall.
d. There shall also be 6 ft sitting
spacing arrangement within
the collation hall.
e. I n o r d e r t o p r e v e n t
o v e r c r o w d i n g d u r i n g
collation, only one polling
agent of a party on the ballot
(or the candidate in person)
for the election(s) shall be
allowed into the collation hall.
C. Post-election Activities
i. For Reverse logistics:
a. Election staff must ensure
that used but reusable PPEs
are carefully packaged and
sent to designated collection
points.
b. Used PPE that are not
reusable must be disposed in
the prescribed manner.
ii. It is now mandatory for
designated election staff to
collect and deposit all Electoral
Operations copies of results
with their Supervisors within the
prescribed time. Non-compliance
shall be treated as dereliction of
duty.
iii. All post-election debriefings shall
preferably be done electronically.
Where face-to-face debriefings
take place, the protocols for
COVID-19 prevention shall be
followed.
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
12
The Commission recognizes the
critical role that ICT will play in an
electoral process that is being vastly
reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic,
as well as the growing demands by
Nigerians for the deepening of the
use of technology in our elections.
Consequently, the Commission shall:
i. Continue to apply relevant, valuefor-money technology in all
aspects of the electoral process
and election management.
ii. Regularly validate and clean up
the biometric Register of Voters
by removing multiple registrants
and deceased persons.
iii. S u s p e n d t h e Co n t i n u o u s
Registration of Voters (CVR) for
the time being to prevent the
health risks associated with it in
the context of COVID-19.
iv. Continue to make available its
electronic channels for voters to
check their registration status.
v. Pilot the use of Electronic Voting
Machines at the earliest possible
time (not Edo and Ondo), but
work towards the full introduction
of electronic voting in major
elections starting from 2021.
6. ICT AND VOTER REGISTRATION
7. TRAINING
i. The methodology for election
training will combine face-toface and electronic approaches.
Where the former is used, the
requisite COVID-19 prevention
protocols shall strictly apply.
It shall be the responsibility of
trainees to provide their own face
masks during training.
ii. All training resources such as
the Manual for Election Officials,
Synopsis and training DVD will
be reviewed to include COVID-19
content and consequent changes
to election procedures approved
by the Commission. Soft copies
of these materials will be shared
with trainees prior to training to
reduce face-to-face contacts and
also enhance learning.
iii. Trainers will receive refresher
courses on COVID-19 to improve
their ability to deliver new
content and handle COVID-19
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
13
8. VOTER EDUCATION AND
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
The Commission shall:
a. Engage with the National
Centre for Disease Control
(NCDC) and other health
authorities to develop relevant
messaging on COVID-19 and
the electoral process.
b. C o m b i n e f a c e – t o – f a c e
e n g a g e m e n t s w i t h
stakeholders with online
meetings. Where the former is
used, the necessary COVID-19
prevention protocols shall
strictly apply.
c. Design effective messaging
with requisite COVID-19
content for its activities and
changes to the electoral
process.
d. Make extensive use of radio
and television broadcasts
in several languages on
COVID-19 and the electoral
process in a manner that
balances the health risks of
the pandemic and the civic
responsibilities of Nigerians.
e. E x p a n d t h e c h a n n e l s
available to citizens to reach
the Commission with their
concerns and suggestions,
such as the Citizens’ Contact
Centre, MyINEC App, etc.
f. C o n d u c t e x t e n s i v e
grassroots enlightenment,
using strategies that fully
incorporate the COVID-19
prevention protocols.
g. In its voter education and
publicity activities, focus
particular attention on new
and young voters, women,
and persons with disability
emergencies during training.
iv. COVID-19 prevention protocols
shall inform the choice of training
venues. Considerations such as
sufficient size to comply with
the physical distancing rule and
adequate ventilation will be
paramount.
POLICY ON CONDUCTING ELECTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
14
in order to ensure a more
inclusive electoral process.
h. Include accessibility features
and closed captioning during
its online engagements in
order to carry along persons
with disability.
i. Create an online platform
f o r a c c r e d i t i n g m e d i a
organizations and journalists
who wish to take part in
electoral activities.
9. POLITICAL PARTIES AND
ELECTION OBSERVATION
A. E-Platforms for Election and
Party Monitoring Activities
T h e Co m m i s s i o n w i l l c rea te
E-platforms for the following
activities:
a. Accreditation of Observer Groups
and Deployment of their field
Observers.
b. Submission of nomination
forms by Political Parties for
Candidates.
c. Tracking and reporting of
campaigns and campaign
finance by/for Candidates and
Political Parties.
d. Submission of Party Agents lists
by Political Parties.
e. Engagement with stakeholders
(consultative meeting with
Political Party leaders and
briefing of Observers).
B. Accreditation and Deployment of
Observers
The Commission shall:
i. Request and receive applications
f o r e l e c t i o n o b s e r v a t i o n
exclusively online.
ii. 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.
iii. Reduce the number of Field
Observers. Approved number
of f ield observers may be
15
p ro p o r t i o n a l l y a l l o tte d to
accredited Observer Groups.
C. Party Primaries and Campaigns
i. In view of the COVID-19
pandemic, the Commission shall
encourage political parties to
develop appropriate Guidelines
and Regulations for conduct of
Party Primaries that take into
account the COVID-19 prevention
protocols.
ii. Where the Guidelines and
Regulations are in conflict with
the Constitutions of Political
Parties and the Commissions’
Regulations and Guidelines for
the Conduct of Political Party
Primaries, 2018, the Commission
shall draw the attention of the
political party to the discrepancy.
D. Submission of Nomination
Forms and List of Polling Agents
i. The Commission shall provide
Access Codes to be issued to
National Chairmen and National
Secretaries of political parties for
the submission of names and
particulars of their candidates for
various elections.
ii. The particulars of candidates will
be pasted in hard copies at the
Commission’s State offices and
also published online.
iii. The Commission, through
Electoral Officers, shall use
appropriate technology to receive
the particulars of Polling Agents
from political parties.
E. Briefing and Debriefing of
Election Observers
The Commission shall, as appropriate,
combine physical and online
briefings for observers. However,
whenever the former is adopted,
all the protocols for COVID-19
prevention shall be strictly followed.
F. Engagements with Political
Parties
i. The Commission shall, as
appropriate, combine physical
and online engagements with
political parties and their officials.
However, whenever the former
is adopted all the protocols for
COVID-19 prevention shall be
strictly followed.
ii. The Commission shall develop
a framework for these
engagements in the context of
COVID-19. Engagement with
political parties shall be regular
and commence immediately.
16

10. SECURING THE ELECTORAL
PROCESS
i. The Commission shall regularly
communicate any policy
changes and any modifications
to its procedure and process
(pre-election, election and
post-election) resulting from
the COVID-19 pandemic to
all Inter-Agency Consultative
Committee on Election Security
(ICCES) members.
ii. In line with its mandate, the
Inter-Agency Consultative
Committee on Election Security
(ICCES) will mandate the State level ICCES to:
a. Reassess existing security
threats across the States and
the implications of COVID-19
for such threats, training
and deployment for election
security.

b. Develop locally focused
plans for election security
deployments, taking
cognizance of COVID-19 and
covering the periods before,
during and after elections,
and forward same to the
National-level ICCES for
approval.

iii. The Commission in collaboration
with security agencies and
health authorities, shall review
the content of the modules
for training security officials
on election duty to include
COVID-19 specific content.
iv. ICCES shall review its draft
common Code of Conduct for
Security Officials on Election
Duties in the light of the
COVID-19 pandemic.
v. ICCES shall develop guidelines
for identifying legitimate
security officials on election
duties to prevent impersonation
by wearing masks.

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