On the 6th of July 2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it’ll suspend the Continous Voter Registration (CVR) by 5pm, August 17.
INEC listened to feedback, and later announced that from August 1st, CVR will happen till 5pm everyday of the week, including Saturdays and Sundays. Awesome.
While this is great, it still doesn’t solve some fundamental problems with the process.
We asked over 100 Nigerians currently living in at least 10 states in Nigeria, all scattered across every region. The problems appear to be the same.
“I don’t even know where to register.”28.5% of the respondents say they don’t even know where to find registration centres in their area.
This is despite the fact that tools already exist to make this process easier. INEC’s website has features like a PVC locator and a Voter Verification page. GoVote has a locator to help people find registration centres.
We built GetYourPVC.com to help people walk through the entire registration process in 5 minutes.
“Have you seen the queues?”“I’ve been there like 3 times,” Blessing said, “but every time I reach there at 6am, my number on the list will almost be at no. 200. I got tired and stopped going.”
She’s not alone. Over 48% of the respondents say this is why they haven’t registered. The understaffed INEC centres take the hit, with officials transferring that frustration to people trying to register.
“Someone came out and announced,” Bankole said, “We’re only registering 100 people today.” The crowd was way more.
“They were collecting ₦2000 to register people.”That’s what Prince said. There have been allegations of INEC officials taking advantage of this overwhelming process, collecting bribes, and giving preferential treatment.
But complaints like these, including the “they said the machines were bad” issues, only account for less than 3% of reasons people gave for not wanting to register.
People we’ve spoken to have generally commended the INEC officials for sticking to their albeit cumbersome process, and refusing bribes.
“In the INEC office I registered,” Samsideen said, “they were very strict and were sending away people wanting to break the process.”
“What’s the point?”With almost a third of the people in the survey not believing in the electoral process, this might be an indication of a wider problem.
Allegations of election malpractice from the 2015 general elections has bred mistrust. Reports of misconduct by INEC officials like this one in Taraba isn’t helping (INEC fixed this immediately). According to Taiwo Makanjuola, INEC’s Citizens Contact Center Manager, INEC has had a pretty good record in the past few years. “Since 2015, we’ve conducted elections in 182 constituencies, and only 2 have had issues at the Tribunal.” Apathy is not exactly a Nigerian problem. In the United States, almost half of eligible voters didn’t even show up in the 2016 elections Trump won.
Updated poll numbers231,556,622 eligible voters 46.9% didn’t vote 25.6% voted for Clinton 25.5% voted for Trump 1.7% voted for Johnson — Josh Nelson (@soxmachine_josh) November 9, 2016 Bringing it back home, of the 67,422,005 registered voters, only 43.65% of them came through to vote in the 2015 elections.
Even worse is the fact that the total votes cast in 2015 was about 10 million less than was cast in 2011. Still, Taiwo believes the turnout has been impressive. “Since April 27, 2017, when CVR started, about 11.4 million Nigerians have registered.” The inconveniences people are currently facing, he believes, is a consequence of the last minute rush. What this means, is that INEC didn’t properly prepare for this rush, inevitably cutting a significant amount of people off.
This is just one poll.The observations on the other hand, are valid; a lot of people won’t be able to vote in February 2019, and it won’t be because they didn’t try.
It’ll be because of the flaws that could have been avoided in a more efficient system.