The independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday called on Nigerians to vote correctly on election days in the 2023 general election. The commision also warned that inappropriate marking of boxes or spaces provided on the ballot papers by voters may affect the overall outcome of the elections. Consequently, the commission advised voters to follow the procedure for voting their preferred candidate or party correctly or have such votes invalidated.
The INEC Assistant Director (Planning and Programming) in the Department of Voter Education, Dorathy Inyang, raised the concern during the final stage of the Voter Education Innovative Dragons’ Den Competition organised by Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening and International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Abuja. The project was organised for Nigerian civil society organisations to pitch innovative proposals for effective and inclusive voter education campaigns in the build-up to the 2023 general elections.
According to her, INEC was working hard in educating and enlightening the electorates on how to effectively participate in the electoral process. Inyang stressed the need for Nigerians to pay attention to manifestos of political parties and candidates for them to make informed decisions. She said, “We have released the guidelines for the elections; even the list of candidates for the Presidential and National Assembly elections have also been released. As you are aware, campaign starts Wednesday, September 28, and we are telling Nigerians to pay attention to the manifestoes of political parties and what each candidate has to offer so that they can make their informed choices. “Considering the size of the nation, all hands, therefore, should be on deck to provide voter education.
Top on the lists of those who are to be involved in these are registered civil society organisations who have passions in civic responsibilities to educate the citizens to be alive to their responsibilities to issues like voting”. She also answered questions on the implication of Nigerians not voting properly on election day. Inyang said, “It is going to have a setback on the outcome of the election because if a voter has a choice to make but while at the polling booth, he or she is unable to mark the ballot paper properly, something drastic would happen because that voter may lose his or her vote for their preferred candidate. “This means they may likely allow another candidate to take over their winning candidate. So it is important that voters mark ballot papers correctly.”
She said Permanent Voters Cards for persons captured in the Continuous Voters Registration exercise would be ready between October and November. Inyang said the commission would enhance greater participation of persons living with disabilities during the election. “As it is right now, PVCs are being distributed at all INEC Local Government offices and there is actually a timetable. For voters that registered from 2011 to January 19 2021, their PVCs are ready because their collection started in August. “For those who registered between June 2021 and January 2022, their PVCs would be ready next month October and for those those that registered in July, 2022, their PVCs would be ready in November 2022”, she said.