By Douglas Okoro
Ebonyi‘s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) held a two-day training course for election officials on Monday on the methods and principles of the proposed voting units in the state.
State Resident Election Commissioner (REC) Dr Joseph Chukwu, who declared the workshop open in Abakiliki, said the training would help INEC determine where to locate polling stations and how to convert points from voting at polling stations.
According to him, before the training, election officials were invited to visit their local communities to determine the new locations of the polling stations and the distances from existing premises.
He said the state has 1,785 polling stations, but stressed that this number may not keep up with the growing number of qualified voters who would participate in voter registration.
“The training aims to build the capacity of officers on the method and principles of implementing the expansion of voter access to polling stations in Nigeria.
“Expanding voters’ access to polling stations is part of the commission’s strategies to increase voter participation in voting and other electoral processes, including voter registration and voter verification exercises,” said he declared.
He said expanding the voter access initiative would bring polling stations closer to the electorate by eliminating issues of distance and overcrowding at polling stations.
“Since 1999, Nigeria has not increased the number of polling stations, despite the increase in the number of qualified registered voters.
“Since the return to democracy and the conduct of the first election in 1999 to date, we are using the same number of voting units.
“However, before each election period, we register new eligible voters.
“This initiative therefore aims to increase the number of voting units compared to existing ones and voting points, not only in Ebonyi but across the country.
“The exercise will welcome more voters, who are generally disenfranchised, either because of the distance between polling stations and their residential areas, or because of overcrowding.
“When we bring the polling stations closer to the electorate by expanding voter access, it will improve the credible voting process and allow more voters to vote,” Chukwu said.
He said the commission would soon start engaging stakeholders and soliciting their support for the smooth take-off of pre-2023 election platforms and the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections in 2023.
CER gave assurances that the commission would use the Constitution and electoral law to organize free, credible and transparent elections in 2023. (NAN)
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