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Yiaga Africa: INEC should allow passports, national IDs for voting

Yiaga Africa: INEC should allow passports, national IDs for voting
November 24
09:41 2023

Yiaga Africa, a civil society organisation, says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should permit documents like international passports and national identity cards during voting.

In a discussion paper on improving the integrity of Nigeria’s voter register, the organisation said not much work has been done with cleaning up the register, as it still contains names of people who are deceased or who have permanently relocated.

It said this can be attributed to the National Population Commission (NPC) not having reliable data on deceased persons, and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) not having reliable information on citizens who have relocated.

Yiaga said inflation of the voters’ register also occurs due to political reasons and weak auditing practices as a result of poor registration facilities and poor attitude of INEC officials.

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“A major source of the problems with the register is the backend management of data. This is central to being able to remove ineligible records from the system,” the report reads.

“One problem is to develop adequate processing power to carry out the matching of biometrics.

“The continuous use of external experts and consultants for managing some of the critical data management tasks is concerning.

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“All critical backend functions should be managed by INEC staff.”

NATIONAL IDENTITY CARDS SHOULD BE USED FOR VOTING

The organisation said in order to raise the integrity of the register, an inter-agency framework for the clean-up of the register — with INEC collaborating with the NPC, National Identity Management Commission, the National Bureau of Statistics, the NIS, civil society and academia — should be created.

It added that the voters’ register should be effectively linked to census, civic registration and other databases for easy verification and updating.

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“INEC should shift its focus from registration to management of the voters’ register,” the organisation said.

“It should allow other agencies to collect data based on clear guidelines as to procedure and quality of data and focus more on deduplication, verification and management of the data.

“INEC should commence full online registration of voters immediately.

“The existing portal should be equipped with all the necessary capabilities for registrants to provide their information, as well as to capture their biometrics.

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“The portal should be able to return a message confirming the successful registration of a voter and offer an electronic PVC to be printed and laminated by the registrant.

“INEC should discontinue the printing of PVCs and move the funds to voter registration. INEC should issue PVCs as paper documents at the point of registration, which can be printed and laminated by the holder.

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“INEC should also offer downloadable PVCs from its registration portal, ensuring the necessary checks against identity theft.

“INEC should use specified identity documents such as international passports and National Identity Cards for voting. This should be piloted in several off-cycle and by-elections.

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“INEC should consider an independent audit of the voter register using qualified external experts and organisations. This will build public confidence and transparency.”

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