Voter Registration In Nigeria
- MEANING OF VOTER REGISTRATION
Voter Registration is a process through which those qualified to vote are identified and included in a list called the register of voters. They are then issued with voters’ cards, which entitles them to vote during elections.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF VOTER REGISTRATION IN THE NIGERIA ELECTORAL PROCESS
A credible voters’ register is a prelude to free and fair elections. Voter registration helps to facilitate the credibility of the electoral process by preventing multiple voting as each person is only allowed to register once. With this, no one is allowed to register at multiple centres. It helps in preventing cases of underage voting because only adults of voting age (18 years and above) are registered.
FEATURES OF THE REGISTER OF VOTERS IN NIGERIA
The register contains the following information about the voter:
- The residential address of the registrant
- The passport photograph of the registrant
- The names of the voter, beginning with the surname followed by other names
- Other information such as sex, date of birth, occupation, registration centre details, etc.
It is important for adults i.e those who are 18 years and above to register because the electoral law specifies that only those whose names are in the voters list are qualified to vote during elections. In other words, whoever intends to exercise his or her civic rights on Election Day must register as a voter. Then he or she will be able to vote for candidates for elective positions.
QUALIFICATIONS TO REGISTER AS A VOTER IN NIGERIA
A person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if he/she;
- Is a citizen of Nigeria
- Has attained the age of eighteen (18) years and above
- Is ordinarily resident, work in, originate from the Local Government Area, Council, Ward covered by the registration centre
- Presents himself/herself to the registration officers of the Commission for registration as a voter
- Is not subject to any incapacity to vote in Nigeria.
HOW, WHEN AND WHERE TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN NIGERIA
The registration of Voters is by Direct Data Capture (DDC) system. The eligible person physically presents himself to the official in-charge of the registration centre where he intends to register. The registering officer may demand from the applicant certain information necessary to determine his identity and eligibility. This is usually done through questioning. The officer, if satisfied by the information so provided, then enters the applicant’s names and other particulars in the Direct Data Capture (DDC) device, issues a temporary voter’s card to the registrant and marks his right thumb nail with indelible ink to prevent him from double or multiple registration.
The law empowers INEC to carry out the continuous registration of voters at any suitable period. It means that INEC is to register new voters, compile maintain and update the register. The dates and timing of continuous voter registration are determined by the Commission. Registration of voters and the update of voters’ list must stop at least thirty (30) days before any election.
Registration of voters is carried out at centres designated by INEC. The essence is to bring the registration exercise as close to the voter as possible.
VOTER REGISTRATION PROCEDURE
The procedure for Voter Registration is as follows:
A person wishing to register as voter must appear in person at the registration centre approved by the Commission and nearest to his/her place of residence and where he/she intends to vote on election day.
Registration usually commences at 9.00am and closes at 4.00pm. The Direct Data Capture (DDC) device is used to capture the biometrics (photograph and fingerprints) of the prospective voter.
At the registration centre, prospective registrants are invited to approach the Assistant Registration Officer to enroll their details into the DDC device.The officer ascertains the eligibility of the registrant. Where in doubt, the registrant is requested to produce a document that could prove his/her identity and age such as, Birth or Baptismal Certificate, National Passport, Identity Card or Driver’s License. In addition, the registrant’s first name, initial (or other names), surname, date of birth, gender, residential address and occupation are entered into the system.
The registrants photograph is taken and the fingerprint/thumbprint recorded. After this, the officer will give a Temporary Voters Card to the applicant. The temporary voter’s card will be replaced with the Permanent Voter’s Card at a date to be announced by INEC. After this, the Applicant leaves the registration center and he/she is requested to return the following day for claims and objections.
TRANSFER OF REGISTERED VOTERS
During the registration of voters, eligible persons are advised to register at the centres nearest to their residence. This is to make it easy for the voter to access the Polling Unit (PU) and vote on Election Day. It should be noted that due to restrictions of movement of people and vehicles, a voter who registered far from his or her residence may find it difficult to get to the polling unit to vote. However, a person who has relocated to another place, outside the unit in which he/she registered cannot vote in his/her new location unless he/she transfers his/her registration.
Procedure for Transfer:
- Step 1
The person who intends to transfer his/her registration will apply to INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner through the Electoral Officer f the Local Government Area where he/she is currently residing.
Note: the application should contain the current address of the applicant as this will assist in allocating the polling unit nearest to him/her.
- Step 2
The applicant will fill a form ECTF 001 (Application for transfer of registered voter)
- Step 3
The applicant will attach a photocopy of his/her Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to the application.
Note that the applicant must apply to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in good time, well before sixty (60) days to the election, as no transfer can be entertained or granted less than 60 days to the election.
- Step 4
The Electoral Officer (EO) of the applicant’s Local Government Area on receiving the application shall;
- Assign the applicant to the nearest polling unit to his/her new residence
- Enter the applicant’s details in the transferred voters’ list
- Forward the application to the Resident Electoral Commissioner for approval.
- Step 5
If the Resident Electoral Commissioner is satisfied that the applicant is currently resident in the new area, he/she shall approve the application and direct that the applicant’s details be transferred to his/her new location.
N.B: The Commission may require evidence such as Utility Bill, Water Bill for confirmation of residence.
- Step 6
The Head of Department, ICT on receiving the approved application shall effect the transfer on the server and issue a Temporary Voters Card (TVC) and later the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC).
The applicant’s registration and particulars will then be deleted from the register of voters in the previous location.
- Step 7
The Electoral Officer will issue the applicant with a new Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and retrieve the previous one.
- Step 8
The applicant is informed to visit the INEC Local Government Area office (that covers the area he/she has applied for a transferred to) to find if the transfer has been effected and to pick up the Permanent Voter Card in person as collection by proxy is not allowed.
OFFENCES AND PENALTIES RELATED TO VOTER REGISTRATION.
- Multiple Registrations: No individual is allowed to register more than once. If caught and convicted, such offence attracts the fine of ₦100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) and imprisonment not exceeding one year or both
- Registering at Multiple Centres: No person is allowed to register in more than a registration centre. If caught and convicted, such offence attracts a fine of ₦100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) and imprisonment not exceeding one year or both
- Providing False Information on self or registering a fictitious person: Any person who provides false information about himself/herself or registers a fictitious (someone that does not exist or is dead) is liable to conviction to a fine not exceeding ₦500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) or five (5) years imprisonment or both
- Intentional tampering/destruction/forgery of a registration card: Any person that intentionally destroys, manipulates, makes any alteration of any document required for registration or forges a registration card is liable to the fine of ₦1,000,000 (One Million Naira) or twelve months imprisonment or both.
- Registration of voters at centres or places not designated/approved by INEC: Any person who carries out registration or revision of voters at a place not designated by the Commission is liable to the fine of ₦1,000,000 (One Million Naira) or twelve months imprisonment or both.