By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
AWKA: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the period for opening and closing of Poll in the Anambra Governorship election, from 8.30am to 4.00pm.
This revised closing time it said, applies to areas where Polling Units opened after the commencement period of 8.30am, adding that in line with existing regulations and guidelines of the Commission, any intending voter who is on the queue by 4.00 pm shall be allowed to vote and all Polling Unit staff must comply with this directive.
The Anambra Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, who made this known at a press briefing in Awka, said the extension of time arose out of several field reports that voters have had problems with accreditation.
“The Commission is currently investigating the reason the accreditation devices, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), have worked perfectly in some Polling Units, but not in others. In some of the cases, it would seem that this resulted from software glitches.
“Our technicians have already built an update to the device software to prevent further challenges. The update is currently being installed in the concerned BVAS and we request voters, candidates and agents to be patient and allow our technical staff to solve the problem”, he said.
He reiterated that in cases of sustained malfunction of the BVAS, the Presiding Officer must inform the voters and polling agents that accreditation and voting for the affected Polling Unit shall continue tomorrow or at another time determined by the Commission, adding that with this extension of time and the recommencement of accreditation where the BVAS consistently malfunctions, the Commission assures that no voter will be disenfranchised.
He also explained that, “Our deployment has also been adversely affected by transportation challenges in some locations. It must be noted that on account of security concerns, some of the transporters that were mobilized and collected 50% of their sign-on fee backed out at the last moment, leaving some of our ad-hoc staff stranded.
“Also, some of the trained ad-hoc staff backed out at the last moment. The Commission is on top of these challenges and extant regulations and guidelines will be applied on a case by case basis.
“Consequently, we are harvesting areas where voting will realistically no longer take place today, including places where substantial disruption has occurred, to enable a possible recommencement of voting at another time, in line with extant laws and the regulations and guidelines of the Commission”, he said.
He appealed to all voters, candidates, stakeholders, communities and political parties to remain calm and law abiding, assuring that the Commission is determined to make all votes count.