SAN FRANCISCO, March 06, (THEWILL) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has unfolded plans to kick start electronic voting with the 2023 general elections.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, said should the Electoral Act is amended, based on its proposals, the 2019 elections would be the last mainly manually conducted election.
He spoke in Lagos at a retreat on the review of the Electoral Act. The retreat, which was declared open by Deputy Senate President and Chairman of National Assembly Committte of Constitutional Amendment Ovie Omo-Agege.
Yakubu noted that the retreat marked the first time that the Commission and National Assembly members came together to discuss issues relating to the electoral legal framework.
He said the 26 clauses in the Bill sought to amend many sections of the Electoral Act, ranging from the neutrality of electoral officials to the compilation, display and storage of the voters’ register; legal recognition for electronic accreditation of voters; party primaries and the nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties.
He also said a new provision was proposed to address the recurrence of the “Kogi conundrum” where a governorship candidate died between the commencement of polls and the declaration of winner, a situation not envisaged and clearly without any legal remedy under the Constitution, the Electoral Act and the Commission’s regulations and guidelines.
The INEC boss, who said the commission was drawing lessons from post-election litigations, a remedy was also needed for involuntary result declaration by returning officers.
Yakubu stressed: “We should find a way to deal with a situation in which Returning Officers are compelled to declare winners under duress. With 809 pre-election petitions filed before the 2019 general elections, the electoral legal framework should provide clear procedures for party primaries and consequences for violation.
“Similarly, the right under the law to file pre-election cases in different categories of High Courts often leads to what lawyers call “forum shopping” by litigants and conflicting judgements by courts of coordinate jurisdiction on the same case, sometimes even on matters already settled by superior courts.
“We also need a new definition of over-voting with emphasis on accredited voters rather than the number of registered voters in a polling unit.
“Doing so will make the management of the margin of lead principle easier and considerably reduce, if not totally eliminate, the incidence of inconclusive elections and the cost associated with conducting supplementary elections which in most cases merely validate the outcome of the first ballot.”