Mr. Mike Igini is the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State. In this interview with Vanguard’s Emmanuel Aziken he articulates the procedures voters are to meet and follow at the polling station.
On Election Day here is what the voter should expect at the polling station and as such voters, observers and Polling Agents that may not get our manual may cut out this page of your newspaper on which this is published and master the process.
On election day, voters should go to the place where he or she registered as a voter with his or her voter’s card. There the presiding officer will open the polling station at 8am -12noon for the commencement of nationwide accreditation.
As from 12.30 voters will queue up for voting by 1pm on the dot. We are going to be strict on 8-12 accreditation time nationwide and so every person should take note.
The Presiding officer (PO) will explain the process of accreditation to all voters present at the polling station; when this has being done individual voters will queue up and present their voters card to the Poll clerk for accreditation; during the process of accreditation the Poll Clerk will check the voter card to ensure that the picture on the card is the same as the voter before him/her;
that the polling station details are correct for the specific polling station and that the Voter Identification Number (VIN) on the card is correct from the register for that polling station; if this is correct it will be ticked on the register of voters for the polling station; then indelible ink will be applied on the left finger cuticle of the voter a specific left finger will be used for each election during accreditation, and a specific right finger after voting for each election; after the indelible mark is applied upon accreditation to the specified left finger of the voter, the polling clerk will politely ask the voter to remain within the polling zone for the commencement by 1pm
All voters in the same polling station will queue for the accreditation, when the time for accreditation has elapsed, the presiding officer will ask a polling assistant or security agent to stand behind the last person who was on the queue at the time when the time for accreditation elapsed, so all voters must get to the polling station before the time for accreditation elapses or they will be unable to vote.
If the voter is on the queue before the time elapses, he/she will still be accredited to vote even if he or she is still on the queue after the time elapses, as long as you are on the queue before the time elapses for accreditation.
After accreditation, the Presiding officer will declare accreditation closed and direct the polling assistant to prevent anyone from joining the queue further, he/she then counts the number of accredited voters and loudly announce the number of accredited voters and the number of people on the voters register loudly for all present to hear; after that the PO will enter these numbers in a form provided.
When the time for voting as announced by the commission nationwide is reached, the PO will invite all voters to form a single queue (in all cases where culture does not allow both genders to queue together, women will form a single queue, while men will form a single queue). The PO will then request the Polling Assistant or security agent to stand behind the last person on the queue to ensure that no other persons join the queue.
The PO will then open the ballot box and display it to all persons present at the polling station including observers to show that it is empty; the PO then locks the ballot box with a seal provided and places the ballot box in the open and most suitable place within the polling station; the PO then places the ballot papers and tendered ballot papers on the table in front of the polling clerk and declares the poll open
As voting commences the PO shall invite voters in the queue to approach the Poll Clerk (PC) in an orderly manner; present their voter’s card to the PC who shall check the finger for indelible mark on the appropriate finger of the left hand; on satisfaction that the person was properly accredited, the PC will tick the register of voters by the person’s name indicating that he/she has voted and apply indelible ink on the appropriate finger of the right hand for that election.
After this the voter will be given an endorsed ballot paper, the voter must make sure that the ballot paper he/she is given was endorsed by the PO who will stamp and sign behind it, if not that ballot paper will not be counted; and the voters must make sure that the endorsement occurs at the polling station, pre-endorsement of ballot papers outside the polling area is illegal.
After receiving the endorsed ballot paper, the voter will be directed to move to the voting cubicle to thumb print the ballot paper in privacy in a space provided; the voter must clearly thumb-print only beside the party logo of the voter’s choice ( multiple thumb-printing or thumb-printing on a line margin that makes it difficult to tell which logo you have thumb-printed on will amount to a lost vote, so do it clearly beside the space provided near the party logo of your choice); then fold the ballot paper and deposit the thumb-printed ballot paper in the ballot box
After voting the voter is advised to wait around the polling zone in an orderly manner for the close of poll, to witness the counting and announcement of the result of the polling at the polling station where he/she voted
The PO will close the polling at the time announced by the Commission, but all persons who are already on the queue before the time of polling closes and who were already accredited must be allowed to vote even after that time, but anyone who was not on the queue at the time polling was officially closed will not be allowed to vote.
After voting has closed, the PO shall arrange the polling station for sorting and counting of ballots and allow polling agents of parties, voters and observers to watch the process of sorting and counting
During sorting, the PO will first count the unused ballot papers and record the quantity and serial numbers of the unused ballot papers on a form EC 40A; then put the unused ballot papers in an envelope provided by the Commission; the PO then counts the counterfoil of the used ballot papers and records the quantity of used ballot papers on the same form, and puts the counterfoils of the used ballot papers in the envelop provided; then the PO will count any spoiled ballot papers, record the quantity and their serial numbers on another form EC40C and put the spoiled ballot papers in an envelope provided; after this he will then cut the seal on the ballot box and open the ballot box; the PO then empties the content of the ballot box/es in full view of all persons present
The PO then starts the process of sorting out the ballot papers into separate piles, one for each party and one for rejected ballots which will be clearly marked rejected if not properly marked beside the party logo of choice such that the ballot is indeterminable, for the April 2nd election, the ballot papers will first be sorted out to separate the House of representative ballot papers from the Senate ballot papers
The PO must show all rejected ballots to all polling agents; rejection of ballot will occur if; the voter choice is unclear; the back of the ballot paper is unendorsed; the ballot paper is without a voter thumb-print; the ballot contains any mark or writing that identifies the voter or the ballot is thumb-printed for a party that is not contesting the particular election
Any objection to a rejected ballot by any agent must be written on the ballot paper ”rejected but objected”, all rejected and tendered ballots must be counted and put in envelopes provided. Tendered ballots are ballots for people who showed up and found that someone else has voted in their name but could prove that they were the actual person on the register
After sorting the PO shall loudly count the votes scored by each party; write on a sheet of paper the valid votes scored by each party to allow for cross-checking before recording same; verify the result of the poll by adding up the number of spoiled ballot, the number of rejected ballot and the number of valid votes scored by parties if this does not add up, a thorough check must be done.
If the numbers still do not add up, the PO shall inform those present of the problem then enter the votes scored by each of the parties and the other information required on a form (EC8A1) and write the words “ANOMALY EXISTS” across the form
In accordance with the Electoral Act sections 73 and 27, the result as recorded and signed by the polling agents at the polling station shall be declared and then taken to the ward collation centre, where it is collated with other results from other polling stations and there the collated result also declared and published and in such stepwise declaration until the final collating centre for that particular election, the PO must follow this steps and not take the result or ballot or ballot papers to any other place other than that specified by the Commission.