Thursday, 14 April 2011

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review VI - Report to Prevent Rigging

Being aware of rigging opportunities

Giving some flesh to a tweet - @boosoolalab The problems could be efficiency, intimidation, access, bias and violence barring people from exercising their rights.

In some Twitter exchanges last night I was engaged in a conversation about the prospects for freer, fairer and more credible elections for the presidential office after the suggestion was made that the national Assembly elections were rigged.

Now, I quite strongly believe that theoretically the opportunities for rigging the elections are not as many as they once were but this can only be made sure with the full participation of Nigerians in the electoral process – the critical bit being witnessing, reporting and relaying those messages to as many credible organisations involved in the monitoring of the elections including INEC.

Know the deal

All voters need to be aware of the INEC Electoral Chain of Custody which shows exactly how INEC should conduct the proceedings at the Polling Units; what the Presiding Officers must do, what they must announce to the hearing of all assembled, what forms to fill in and what should be posted at the Polling Unit after the proceedings for the day are complete.

INEC has fervently encouraged citizen monitoring, asking voters to attend their Polling Units with their mobile devices to take pictures and report events to INEC and various other monitoring sites.

Every situation at the Polling unit is relevant to the reporting process, what can be expected can be found in the Nigeria: INEC Election Guidelines - Critical Information and from tweets published by the @inecNigeria Twitter account we get a general idea of how the election should be conducted Nigeria: A Primer on INEC Elections in April 2011.

They must be early

These are where opportunities for rigging might arise and should be thwarted.

All INEC personnel should and must have arrived at the Polling Units on the day of election before 08:00AM and have set up to start the accreditation process from 08:00AM until 12:00 noon.

Depending on the number of people to be accredited, there should not be over 300 per Polling Unit section to allow for all eligible voters to be processed by 12:00 noon.

Immediate reports should be made to INEC and other monitoring organisations where names of registered voters holding voter registration cards are not found in the Voters’ Register.

If everything is orderly, accreditation should be concluded by 12:00 noon, if that is not the case, no person can join the queue for accreditation after 12:00 noon – those who arrive for accreditation after noon automatically forfeit their rights to vote on that Election Day.

Just report it

Any confusion in any of the activities at the Polling Unit should be quickly identified and reported, if the situation is resolved update your reports just as those reports should be updated if the situation persists – probably every 30 minutes.

No voters should feel intimidated by INEC personnel, security personnel, party agents or any other persons at the Polling Unit – all such cases of intimidation should be reported.

There were reports last week of people being barred from accreditation if they did not pledge allegiance to a certain party, no one has any right to know your allegiance at the Polling Unit, where such bias is observed, report the incident. All eligible and registered voters at a Polling Unit should not be hindered from exercising their rights.

The ballot box when presented for voting at 12:30PM which is when voting should commence and no earlier should be visible and empty.

The Presiding Officer must announce the number of registered voters in the registered, the number of accredited persons that morning and then the number of accredited persons in the queue to vote at 12:30PM. The write this in the required forms – if this announcement is not heard, report the situation.

At voting

Each voter must not have more ballot papers than are necessary for the election, last week, it would have been two, this week for the presidential elections it must be just one ballot paper, the next election will be a minimum of two ballot papers for gubernatorial and state assembly elections and then ballot papers for the Senate or House of Representatives where the elections for those seats were postponed from the 9th of April 2011.

When you vote and thumbprint the ballot paper ensure the ink is dry before you post your ballot paper in the ballot box.

If any voter is seen to post more than the required number of ballot papers in the ballot box, report the situation.

If any accredited voter who was counted in the queue to vote at 12:30PM does not have the opportunity to vote, report the situation.

See and hear everything

Once the queue of accredited voters has been through the voting process, no new voters can be accommodated no matter how early voting was concluded at a Polling Unit – the separation and counting of the ballots must commence immediately after the vote.

If the ballot box leaves sight of the assembled voters, report the situation.

The ballots must be separated in plain sight and audibly counted to the hearing of all assembled and then the tallied results announced and written into the respective forms all at the Polling Unit, if any of these steps are not followed, report the situation.

Then the number of used and unused ballots must be countered, announced and entered in the relevant form.

Take pictures and take them properly

The Statement of Results must be posted at the Polling Unit before the INEC personnel leave the Polling Unit and all assembled voters are at liberty to capture a picture of the posted results and report the same to INEC and other monitoring organisations.

Ensure the full page of the results is captured with details of the Polling Unit information, numbers of voters and the votes that each party has obtained, the picture captured could be used in evidence if electoral disputes arise, only the full page will pass muster when contested by law.

If anybody is barred from reporting events at their Polling Units, report the situation immediately.

Any suspicious situation at a Polling Unit is best reported immediately, it might come in useful when disputes or issues arise later on.

Most importantly, it is the alertness and vigilance of people at each Polling unit that will ensure the elections are free and fair, if order is maintained at the Polling Unit, middle-men will find it difficult to usurp and rig the elections because the results at the Polling Units are what will add up to the total tally of results announced for winners – INEC can return to each documented Polling Unit result or re-check and re-collate the numbers to ensure the will of the people is what wins over in the end.

Reference Notes & URLs

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review I

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review II - New Election Dates

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review III - Who votes on Saturday.

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part 1 to Voting

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review IV - Part II - We can

Nigeria: #NigeriaDecides Election Review V

To contact INEC

#NigeriaDecides: INEC incident reporting addresses: inec@yahoo.com, inec@gmail.com, inec@hotmail.com, inec@nigeria.org

Follow @inecnigeria, @EiENigeria, @reclaimnaija on Twitter if you are voting tomorrow. You will get useful alerts and information.

If you are tweeting about the elections, please use the hashtag #NigeriaDecides.

Send SMS Reports to INEC on these numbers 0816-666-2222, 0812-000-6622, 0809-666-2221.

Use these HOTLINES for incident reporting: 0707-0273-6781-9 (9 lines.)

General Election Information

Nigeria: A Primer on INEC Elections in April 2011

Nigeria: INEC Election Guidelines - Critical Information

Nigeria: Table of INEC Electoral Chain of Custody

Participate in monitoring

Reporting from your Polling Unit - ReVoDa | How it works

Submit a report as a monitor to ReclaimNaija – Click to Submit a Report

234Next.com Election Incident Reporting Site

Nigeria Elections Social Media Tracking Centre

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