INEC makes card reader mandatory in 2019 polls

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that card reader will be mandatory in the conduct of the 2019 election.

A top official of the commission who preferred anonymity said in Abuja that card readers help the Commission to confirm that the permanent voter card (PVC) was issued by INEC, the biometrics of the holder are correct and the identity of the holder is authenticated through the fingerprints.

The official said the Commission would soon begin a process of upgrading the card readers such that whatever was experienced in the past would not occur in the 2019 election.

The official stated that part of the challenges the Commission had in 2015 was the violence that led to the loss of card readers.

He said in Rivers State alone, the Commission lost 1,321 card readers during the 2015 elections.

The official reiterated that the Commission never had any plan to create 30,000 new polling units before the 2019 elections as being speculated in some quarters.

He said although the commission was able to uncover through its checks that a lot of communities and settlements had outgrown the current number of polling units in the country, the controversy generated around the plan made any Nigerians to misconstrue the intention.

The official cited the example of Gwarinpa Estate I Abuja which is regarded as the largest estate in Africa but which he said has only nine polling units adding that such examples abound across the country.

“One thing the commission has ruled out is the possibility of creating new polling units before the 2019 elections. No polling units will be created before the 2919 elections. If you create polling units, you have to populate them, then it will create confusion and you will have to replace the voter cards,” the source said adding that what the commission had resolved to do is to decongest the existing polling units by creating voting points where voters exceed 500 in a particular point.

According to the official, the Commission prior to the administration of  Prof Attahiru Jega had no record of the number of the Polling Units in the country but that the audit conducted under the previous INEC Chairman yielded 119,793 polling units.

He also stated that the commission would not add any unit to the existing units before the 2019 elections.

“Under Jega, the commission conducted an audit of all polling units. Before then, some polling units were located in shrines and different places. But with the audit, we now have 119,973 polling units across the country and there is no more obscure polling units nationwide,” said the official.

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