AnambraDecides2021: INEC extends voting time over malfunction of BVAS machines

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TEXT OF A PRESS STATEMENT BY THE RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER, ANAMBRA STATE ON OPENING AND CLOSING OF POLLS FOR THE ANAMBRA STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION, SATURDAY 6TH NOVEMBER 2021*

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has extended the period for opening and closing of Poll from 8.30am to 4.00pm. This revised closing time applies to areas where Polling Units opened after the commencement period of 8.30am. 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. All Polling Unit staff must comply with this directive.

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 devise 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.

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The Commission wishes to reiterate 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. With this extension of time and the recommencement of accreditation where the BVAS consistently malfunctions, the Commission assures that no voter will be disenfranchised.

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 bases. 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.

We appeal to all voters, candidates, stakeholders communities and political parties to remain calm and law abiding. We assure you that the Commission is determined to a make all votes count.

Thank you.

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