The National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has increased the number of polling units in Bayelsa State by 440 making it 2,244 polling units to create access for more voters to participate in future elections.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Cyril Omorogbe, in at a stakeholders’ meeting on expansion of voters access to polling units exercise in Yenagoa on Tuesday, said the commission was converting existing voting points and settlements into full polling units.
Omorogbe said INEC has also used the opportunity to relocate existing polling units to places where they are closer or more accessible to the voters as well as decongesting existing ones.
He said access to polling units is very essential in increasing the numbers of voters during elections saying Nigeria has never recorded over 35 percent of voters in any election whereas Ghana has recorded over 50 percent of voter participation in an election.
According to him, 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.
Omorogbe explained that before the enumeration of the registration areas, there were 1,804 polling units in all the eight local government areas of the state, but the number has now increased to 2,244 polling units after the conversion.
“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,” he said.
Some stakeholders at the meeting commended INEC for the exercise and urged the commission to create more polling units for people in the creeks and fishing settlements to exercise their franchise.