Disruption by large crowds at PUs leads to supplementary polls – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the large crowds at many Polling Units across the country have consequences on electoral outcomes leading, in some instances, to avoidable supplementary elections.

INEC Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood stated this at the first quarterly Consultative meeting of Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) the year 2021 in Abuja on Wednesday.

Yakubu noted that the management of large crowds at Polling Units has been challenging to Commission officials and security agents.

He acknowledged that Members of ICCES are critical partners to the Commission in delivering credible and peaceful election, including orderly behaviour at the Polling Unit level.

“As you are aware, the success of elections is largely a reflection of what happens at Polling unit level. It is the only point at which votes are cast by eligible citizens. What follows thereafter is the collation process leading to the declaration of results.

“However, the large crowds at some of our Polling Units on Election Day remain a challenge to the orderly management of elections. In your reports to the Commission, some members of ICCES have alluded to this problem.

“This meeting is a continuation of our consultations towards building a national consensus on the need to expand voter access to Polling Units. There will be a presentation followed by discussion. We hope that by doing so, we will better communicate the Commission’s intention to Nigerians and invite input across the board on how to address this problem in the immediate term and hopefully establish the framework for future adjustments as the need arises as is the case in virtually all democracies around the world”, he said.

The meeting resolved that given the current state of voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria, expanding access to Polling Units is fundamental and critical to the exercise of the right to vote and to the conduct of free, fair, credible and safe elections.

It was also resolved that:”It is important and necessary to widely consult with all electoral stakeholders to develop a consensus and build trust in expanding Voter access to Polling Units.

“ICCES supports the INEC proposal of converting the existing and well-known Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements into full-fledged Polling Units as a practical and realistic way to expand Voter access to Polling Units.

“ICCES will collaborate with the Commission in achieving this objective and in promoting measures towards a routinized and seamless adjustment for expanding Voter Access to Polling Units as the need arises in the future.

“In expanding Voters access to Polling Units, due attention should be paid to location of the proposed Polling Units in suitable, accessible, secure and conducive environments for voting.

“All stakeholders should support INEC’s efforts to expand voter access to Polling Units and avoid politicizing the issues involved”.