Polithinks: At the Booth, how do I Cast the Ballot?
Tomorrow, Nigerians will rush to the polls to cast their ballot for their preferred candidates in the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Here’s what to do when you get there.
●24th February 2023
The much talked about 2023 general election is here. Tomorrow, Nigerians will rush to the polls to cast their ballot for their preferred candidates in the Presidential and National Assembly elections. As it is with previous elections, this current election will attract both regular voters and voters who are coming to cast their ballot for the very first time.
For first timers, the process of voting can be confusing and cumbersome, moreso with the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) which is designed to read the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and authenticate voters.
On the 25th of February, voting starts by 8:30 am, and lasts till 2:30 pm (until the last person on the queue votes). A prospective voter can choose to be at his or her polling unit very early and queue in an orderly manner before voting begins by 8:30 am.
The first thing a registered voter who arrives at their polling unit must do is present themselves to the INEC officer on duty to check he or she is in the right polling unit. Next, the voter presents their PVC to the accreditation officer who will check to be sure it belongs to the voter.
After ensuring that their name is on the voter register, and that their voter card belongs to them, the voter gets authenticated with the BVAS through their fingerprints or their facials. After the authentication, the voter is given a ballot paper, which contains the images of the various political parties. The voter takes the ballot paper and heads to the voting cubicle where the voter secretly prints on the paper with their thumb beside the logo of the political party of their choice. To ensure that the vote is valid, the voter must ensure that the print is within the rectangle beside the political party of their choice. The voter thereafter drops the thumbed ballot paper in the ballot box.
The voter can leave the voting area or stay about 300 meters away to witness the sorting and counting of the votes.
At the polling unit, there is an officer called the Polling Officer (PO) who is responsible for the following:
1. Allow voters into the polling unit in an orderly queue.
2. Where culture disallows men and women mingling on a queue, create separate queues for men and women.
3. Introduce polling agents and poll officials present, including the Asst. Presiding Officer (APO) I who will:
4. Request the voter to present his/her PVC
5. Read the PVC using the Card Reader, and
6. Request the voter to place the appropriate finger on the Card Reader for authentication.
7. On being authenticated, the voter will present himself/herself to APO II who will request for his/her PVC,
8. Check the Register of Voters for the records of the voter,
9. Tick as appropriate on the Register and apply indelible ink on the specified finger of voter’s left hand, and
10. Issue the voter an accreditation tag
Most of the details in this article is from the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Click here to learn more.