BEVERLY HILLS, May 11, (THEWILL) – The National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has increased the number of polling units in Bayelsa State by 440 to make it a total of 2,244 in order to ease voting access for voters.
According to INEC, the commission was expanding voters’ access to polling units by converting existing voting points and settlements into full polling units.
In his keynote address at the stakeholders meeting on Expansion of Voters Access to Polling Units Exercise in Yenagoa, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Cyril Omorogbe, said INEC had also seized the opportunity to relocate existing polling units to places where closer to the voters as well as decongest the existing ones.
Dr. Omorogbe said access to polling units was very essential in increasing the number of voters during elections.
He lamented that due to voter apathy, Nigeria had never recorded over 35 percent of voters during elections whereas Ghana recorded over 50 percent of voters’ participation in elections.
Speaking further, he said, “It is also the goal of the commission to improve health and safety conditions at polling units during elections in order to comply with COVID-19 protocols and to address declining voter turnout at elections due to lack of access to polling units.”
According to him, before the enumeration of the registration areas, there were 1,804 polling units in all the eight local government areas of the state, which has now increased to 2,244 polling units after the conversion.
He said: “INEC will continue to address the issue of polling units after the continuous Voter Registration (CVR) as the commission is targeting 120 million voters for 2023 elections.”
Some of the stakeholders commended INEC for the exercise and urged the commission to create more polling units for people in the creeks and the fishing settlement to have access to polling units.
In his contribution, the Member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Fred Abgedi, said he had always insisted that Bayelsa could be treated like other states whenever an exercise like this comes up.
He said: “You look at the peculiarities of our terrain and make sure you take that into consideration in whatever you are doing in the state so that the key word, “access,” will be rendered to our people and voters will have access from the voting day and from the polling units where they can vote to strengthen democracy.”