In less than 24 hours to February 23, 2019, a viral message has spread across whatsApp groups intended for a last minute voter education on election day.
The message reads thus:
“URGENT INFORMATION ABOUT INEC
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. Please kindly attend to this piece of information CONCERNING THE GENERAL ELECTIONS:
1). BE VIGILANT AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE CARD READER.
*When your PVC is slotted into the CARD READER, MAKE SURE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR INFORMATION IS CLOSED before another PVC is slotted in.
If this is not done, your information especially your PICTURE will be used for different people that they already have with them. INSIST that your information be closed.
*For Agents, PLEASE PAY ATTENTION WHEN COLLATING THE RESULTS because results will be sent ELECTRONICALLY first before Ballot Boxes will be taken to Collation Centers.
*Make sure the correct figures is recorded for all parties.
For example, if UAC scores 55 and OPC scores 32, VOID 15
let the record be:
UAC – 055
OPC – 033
VOID – 015
DO NOT ALLOW 33 because they will add the VOID to it before you know.
*Also, most of the INEC Staffs’ Salaries at the Polling Units are paid by political parties.
They have been in training in the six months;
(2) Your TEMPORARY VOTERS CARD can be used to vote in case you did NOT get your PVC. It is in accordance with the Law. If you’re many at your polling unit without PVC, line up together and insist you must vote. INEC is silent on this.
(3) USE THE LAST FINGER TO VOTE. The space is small and as such may stain others thereby making the vote Invalid.
Roll the paper INWARDLY until you get to the party of your alloyed choice .
Carefully use your smallest finger to cast your vote and roll out completely. The excess ink will stain the back of the paper and then you can fold and drop the paper in the ballot boxes.
Please pass around. MORE TO COME.
PLEASE KEEP SHARING ON WHATSAPP GROUPS, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, TELEGRAM ETC”
There are many claims in this single Whatsapp message. So, let’s take them individually:
CLAIM 1 – Personal information especially the picture on card reader must be closed
The first misinformation in the Whatsapp post is that the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) is slotted into the card reader. The reality, as shown on a Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme in 2015 by an INEC official when it was first introduced, reveals that the PVC is only placed underneath the card reader.
The INEC official, accompanied by an Engineer, demonstrated how the card reader recognizes the card as authentic, and eligible to be used to vote in that polling unit. The demonstration also showed that the fingerprint of the card owner is needed to unlock all the information on the card and such a person is accredited for voting in that polling unit.
Transferring of one’s personal details is not possible because the thumb print is used to unlock the details on each card and each card reader is configured to accommodate only the registered voters in a particular polling unit. It cannot be used multiple times.
And since 2015 general elections, INEC has come out routinely to tell the public that the card reader cannot read clone card information or manipulate personal data!
Also, in addition to an electronic accreditation, a manual accreditation will be conducted as explained on the INEC website. Voter’s name will be ticked and the voter’s finger will be inked to show that the person has voted. This is to double check the total number of voters that present themselves for voting. The total number of voters that undergo electronic accreditation must be equivalent to the manual accreditation at the end of the voting exercise.
CLAIM 2 – Results are sent electronically first before ballot boxes are sent to the collation centres
Results been sent electronically from the polling units was piloted at the 2017 Anambra gubernatorial elections and it was also used in the 2018 Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections.
INEC first made it public in March 2017 that election results will now be transmitted into a central database from the polling unit to a central database to curb the electoral malpractice between the polls and collation centre.
The Electoral Commission said: “The challenge has been after the poll – between the polling units and the collation centres and at the collation centre.
“INEC has therefore decided to securely transmit results from all polling units to central database such that only viewing access is allowed at the wards and local government levels – which ultimately eliminates manual collation processes.”
The new e-collation system has four procedures, namely:
- Results from polling units will be entered into the e-collation application on the smart card reader;
- Results are transmitted to a central server;
- Results are auto-collated and can be viewed at the RAs (wards) and ECA8s can be scanned at that level; and
- Result audit and confirmation takes place at collation centres at LGAs, state and national level.
Though the commission has said that electronic collation will eliminate the manual collation but with the off-cycle election held in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun, the manual collation was in use.
The presiding officer for each polling unit has a responsibility of giving each of the party agent present, a duplicate of the election result and also paste the result on the wall for the public.
The voter’s education on the electoral commission’s website has done an explicit work on providing more information on the collation and declaration –
- The Presiding Officers/Collation Officers at the various levels complete the result sheet and request the party agents available to countersign. Duplicate copy of the result is made available to each one while the original is taken to the next level of collation.
- The Presiding Officers/Collation Officers at each level completes the notice of results of poll and paste at the Polling Unit or Collation Centre.
This goes along with the fourth procedure of the electronic procedure where results are to be audited and confirmed at collation centres at LGAs, state and national level.
Following this procedure, all votes whether valid or void will be inputted into the smart card reader and also recorded manually in the various INEC forms and must tally with the total number of accredited voters at each collation centre.
CLAIM 3 – You can use your Temporary Voter’s Card to vote
The issuance of a Permanent Electronic Voter’s Card with an average life-span of 10 years started in 2013 during the tenure of Professor Attahiru Jega and the introduction of smart card reader came in some months before the 2015 election. The Jega’s INEC did everything in its capacity to ensure that Temporary Voter’s Card (TVC) weren’t used but the lawmakers at the Lower Chambers requested on behalf of Nigerians that the TVC be used during the 2015 election.
In order to avoid using the TVC, INEC extended voters registration several times and even extended deadlines for collection of Permanent Voter’s Card as well; leaving zero excuse for anybody to bring up issues about making use of their TVC.
Without the PVC, the smart card reader cannot read the TVC thereby missing the first step to vote by getting accredited electronically and that automatically truncates all other processes.
INEC has repeatedly said that the use of TVCs will not be entertained. Another warning was issued when the deadline for collection of PVC was extended in February.
CLAIM 4 – Use the last finger to vote
The week leading to the postponed presidential election, the media space was filled with various claims about the finger to use in voting. While some claimed that the index finger was to be used to vote, others said it should be the ‘pinkie’. This information was consumed by political parties, making them to create billboards across streets and digital banners to encourage their supporters to vote with the index finger.
However, the INEC Commissioner in charge of Voter Education, Festus Okoye has cleared the air on the misinformation on which hand to use to vote.
In his words; “INEC’s attention has been drawn to a fake news making rounds that the INDEX finger is the only approved for marking a ballot paper. THIS IS FALSE.
“At the point of registration, all ten fingers were captured. So, any finger can be used for marking a ballot paper. Make sure that your mark is inside the box of your party of choice and does not stray into another box“.
Also a fact check article has been published on Dubawa to explain which finger should be used – the finger whose prints will not spill over the allotted space!