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2023 elections: Are there invalid thumbprinting, as reported in this post?

Claim: A viral image showing different thumbprint positions classify some as valid and others as invalid. 

2023 elections: Are there invalid thumbprinting, as reported in this post?

Verdict: FALSE. Our findings show all thumbprint positions shown in the image constitute valid votes. 

Full Text

As February 25, 2023 election draws near, different information will be shared on voting to sensitise the public, but some of this information may be misleading. 

Recently, images of different fingerprints have been shared on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook on the right and wrong placement of the fingerprint. 

According to this image, only fingerprints within the fingerprint compartment in front of a party’s logo are valid. That is, if your fingerprint crosses or touches the line of the compartment, it becomes invalid. 

2023 elections: Are there invalid thumbprinting, as reported in this post?
Screenshot of the viral fingerprint image. 

While many believe this and have gone ahead to reshare, some Twitter users disagree with the fingerprint placement described as invalid, noting a person’s vote only becomes invalid when it becomes difficult to determine which compartment it belongs to.

The significance of this assertion and the need to clarify this confusion and set the records straight prompted us to verify. 


What is the significance of your thumbprint /fingerprint? 

A fingerprint is an impression or mark made on a surface by the inner part of the top joint of the thumb. Its unique pattern of whorls and lines is used to identify individuals. 

Part four, section 52, subsection two, of the 2022 Electoral Act states that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shall use indelible ink for any thumb mark by voters on ballot papers.

Subsection one of this same part notes that “Where a voter makes any writing or mark on a ballot paper by which he or she may be identified, the such ballot paper shall be rejected provided that any print resulting from the staining of the thumb of the voter in the voting compartment shall not be or be deemed to be a mark of identification.”

Which finger can I use to thumbprint?

INEC has clarified that any finger can be used to thumbprint in the general election.

According to INEC’s manual for election officers, indelible ink must be applied on the cuticle of the appropriate thumb/finger of the voter’s hand according to the type of election. 

For general elections, it would be applied to any of the applicable five fingers of a voter, but in the case of Stand-alone Elections, it would be applied to the left thumb of a voter).

2023 elections: Are there invalid thumbprinting, as reported in this post?
Image showing the correct way to ink your thumb.

What is the correct placement of the thumbprint/fingerprint?

We reached out to INEC’s national commissioner for information, Festus Okoye, on the issue, and he shared the commission’s 2022 manual for election officers. 

According to this manual, only thumbprints placed equally across two political parties’ compartments or on multiple compartments constitute an invalid vote. Ballots without any fingerprint or with the voter’s name in place of a thumbprint also constitute an invalid vote.

2023 elections: Are there invalid thumbprinting, as reported in this post?
Ballots sample showing the thumbprint position.

On the other hand, fingerprints placed within a party’s thumbprint compartment, on a party’s logo, or between a party’s logo and its thumbprint compartment constitute a valid vote. 

2023 elections: Are there invalid thumbprinting, as reported in this post?
Screenshot of valid ballots sample showing the thumbprint position.

The voting procedure on election day

Voting at your polling unit on election day will follow this procedure:

Step 1– Join the queue at your Polling Unit (PU), where an INEC official will check if you are at the correct polling unit and confirm that the permanent Voters Card (PVC) presented belongs to you.

Step 2– An INEC official will confirm if your PVC is genuine using the card reader. You will also be asked to place your finger on the card reader.

Step 3– An INEC official will ask for your PVC and confirm if you are listed on the Voters Register. Afterwards, your name will be ticked and indelible ink applied to the cuticle of your finger.

Step 4– The Presiding officer will stamp, sign and endorse your ballot paper. You will be given the ballot paper rolled with the printed side inwards and directed to the voting cubicle.

Step 5– Once in the cubicle, stain your finger with the ink given and mark the compartment for your preferred candidate/party. After this, you must roll the ballot paper in the manner you were given and flatten it.

Step 6– Leave the voting cubicle and drop the ballot paper in the ballot box in full view of people at the PU.

Step 7– Leave the PU or wait, if you so choose, in an orderly and peaceful manner, to watch the process up to the declaration of the result.


Our findings show that all thumbprint positions in the viral image constitute valid votes, contrary to the assertion that some are valid while others are not. 

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  1. I want to know how this amounts to false information. The voting process classifies thumb prints that crosses the lines into the box of another political party as invalid. The national Orientation Agency has sensitised people not to let their thumb print cross the line, or fold the ballot paper in a way that makes it possible or likely to allow the ink smear another point or box.
    From the samples classified invalid in this picture, I’m trying to make voters careful. So how’s this a false information?

  2. This your post is a fake news. Stop confusing people in the media. Check INEC’s website for true information about invalid post and stop misleading with fake information. I advice you delete this post. The true source for validating the invalid thumbprinting is INEC’s official website and news pages.

  3. this update is false, it has been clearly and repeatedly stated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that a thumbprint which crosses into the boundary box of another party is invalid, this flagging of accurate posts by a supposed fact checking body is very dangerous considering the fact that Nigeria has 1 more weekend of elections to go

  4. I wonder how a sensitization post amount to false information. Is it that the fact checker just flags the post as false information without reading the wording that accompanies it?
    If it is human that fact-checked it go and read again and correct yourself. If it is machine then there should be a correction in the programming of the machine.
    Thank you.

  5. If you are here, it’s because Instagram brought you here. Let them know that this fact check is wrong by providing feedback.

  6. So how are you a fact checker when you don’t have FACTS?..What is false in this post?.Can we for once not be biased in issues regarding elections in this country??

  7. It’s disgusting to see yet again Facebook working as a tool of oppression by power grabbers in Nigeria. This is legitimate information put out to sensitize people on the right way to vote but it’s being tagged false? Feel free to take any actions including knocking me off your compromised app. I’m better off without your falsehood anyway. Eeeeewww!!!

  8. This post was not met to tell the public or miss informed the public that it was invalid vote, for as at when this post was made, elections has not been conducted in Nigeria. A thousand time no, but rather it was a post meant to guide all electorate on the appropriate way to thumbprint so as to avoid invalid vote. Thank you.

  9. Any thumbprint that crosses the ilne is invalid even as seen in our presidential election, I wonder why the post should be tagged as fake

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