It is about six months to the 2023 general elections, but the recent comment the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made on electronic transmission of results has continued to spark controversies, a development that forced the commission to issue a clarification.
INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, had said electronic transmission of election results from polling units would be a permanent feature in the nation’s electoral process.
- ICYMI: It’s unjust PDP presidential candidate, national chairman are from north – BoT chair
- Tambuwal reacts as Nduka Obaigbena mocks Wike at mother’s funeral
One of the key provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 is the deployment of technology in the electoral process.
But there seems to be a misconception of part of the electoral process bordering on the collation of results which made some people to conclude that INEC would handle election results in the forthcoming polls manually.
However, the national Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of the commission, Festus Okoye, on Sunday said the “procedure for result transmission remains the same as in recent governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states,” adding that “there will no be change in all future elections including the 2023 general elections.”
Below is a step-by-step procedure on how INEC will manage the 2023 election results as provided by the Electoral Act 2022:
Counting of votes and forms:
The Presiding Officer (PO) shall, after counting the votes at the polling unit, enter the votes scored by each candidate in a form to be prescribed by the commission as the case may be.
The form shall be signed and stamped by the PO and counter signed by the candidates or their polling agents where available at the polling unit.
The PO shall give to the polling agents and the police officer where available a copy each of the completed forms after it has been duly signed as provided under subsection (2).
The PO shall count and announce the result at the polling unit and shall transfer the results including total number of accredited voters and the results of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the Commission.
The act states that any PO who willfully contravenes any provision of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not more than N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of at least six months.
Post-election procedure and collation of election results:
After the recording and announcement of the results, the PO shall deliver same along with election materials under security and accompanied by the candidates or their polling agents, where available, to such person as may be prescribed by the commission.
It is worthy of note that before the PO leaves the polling unit with the results, a copy must have been scanned through the use of BVAS and transmitted to the INEC central server system.
According to Section 52 (1), a collation officer or returning officer at an election shall collate and announce the result of an election, subject to his or her verification and confirmation.
It specifies that the number of accredited voters stated on the collated result must be correct and consistent with the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from polling units.
It added, “Subject to subsection (1), a collation officer or returning officer shall use the number of accredited voters recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under Section 47 (2) of this act and the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from polling units under Section 60 (4) of this Act to collate and announce the result of an election if a collated result at his or a lower level of collation is not correct.”
The electoral act explains that if during collation of results, there is a dispute regarding a collated result or the result of an election from any polling unit, the collation officer or returning officer shall use the following to determine the correctness of the disputed result:
“(a) The original of the disputed collated result for each polling unit where the election is disputed; (b) the smart card reader or other technology device used for accreditation of voters in each polling unit where the election is disputed for the purpose of obtaining accreditation data directly from the smart card reader or technology device;
“(c) data of accreditation recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed as prescribed under section 47(2) of this Act ; and (d) the votes and result of the election recorded and transmitted directly from each polling unit where the election is disputed, as prescribed under section 60 (4) of this Act,” it stated.
From the forgoing, it is clear that manual collation of election results is a follow-up to electronic transmission. In other words, results collated manually are expected to be a reflection of what has been electronically transmitted right from the polling units.