By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Lagos State has concluded plans to create additional 4,861 polling units in the state.
The Commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Sam Olumekun, who announced this at the Election Stakeholders’ forum on Monday, held in Ikeja, explained that the move became necessary to tackle the usual voter apathy and boost voter access to polling units in exercising their fundamental rights to vote.
The forum was part of sensitization and public enlightenment of Stakeholders by the commission towards engendering active participation in future election exercises.
He stated: “Polling Units are central to the electoral process and therefore democracy at large. Voter access to Polling Units is at the very heart of representative democracy because it is where citizens exercise their fundamental rights to vote and make electoral choices freely.
“Consequently, polling units largely shape citizens’ confidence in the electoral process and similarly determine the level of their participation or apathy as well as security and safety during elections.”
According to him, “Voter access to polling units goes beyond the number of polling units that are available to voters as it also entails sitting polling units in places that are conducive to voting on Election Day, according to the regulations and guidelines of the Commission. The idea is equally to engender an environment that would provide a good voter experience in each polling unit.
“However, the location of the polling units for the conduct of the election will be restricted to public places preferable to those that are centrally located and accessible. Non- sectarian locations such as schools, town/community halls, health centers, court premises, and public recreational centres will also be used.
“The commission has further said that polling units should not be sites in private compounds, royal palaces, residences of government officials, political party building, places designated for religious worship or any building to which a voter May under any circumstances is denied access, except as prescribed by law or regulation.
“Consequently, the commission has approved 4,861 additional polling units to increase the number of polling units in Lagos state to 13,325 with registered voters at 6,570,291 across 245 registration areas across 20 Local Government Areas in the state.
“The commission has also approved the modalities for continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise nationwide. The exercise which will commence on June 28, 2021, will entail voter registration for those that have newly attained the age of 18 years and above and the persons that have not been previously registered.
“Also, the Commission will deploy a new technology known as INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED) which allows online registration as an alternative method for those who have access to internet facilities.”
Lagos State chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Tunde Balogun, commended INEC for the creation of additional polling units, saying that it will go a long way in enhancing voter participation and also create unhindered access to the electorate on election day.
Also, State Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Mr. Adesina James expressed appreciation to INEC for extending the invitation to stakeholders on the need to expand voter access to polling units.
“I want to appreciate the commission for inviting us to this stakeholders meeting to ensure Lagos state has A free and fair local government election. I want to say that we are fully in support of the expansion. This is to ensure an improvement in the political and electoral processes and I am assuring all stakeholders that it will be communicated to the grassroots,” he stated.
Representative of the National Orientation Agency, Waheed Ishola said: “The newly approved polling units is to bring closer polling units to the electorate. I do know that the number of registered voters is high but when we consider the number of turnouts, you will discover that more still needs to be done to make electoral activities free and fair in the state.”