The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has started a process to establish more polling units across Nigeria as it adjusted its thresholds for voting points.
The adjustment reduces the lower and upper thresholds for voting points from 750 and 1000 registered voters stated in the guidelines released by the commission on March 2, to 500 and 750 voters respectively.
The commission made the adjustment on Tuesday at a meeting where it deliberated on the conversion of voting points to polling units.
Section 42 of the Electoral Act mandates INEC to “establish sufficient number of polling units in each Registration Area and allot voters to such polling units.”
But the commission usually carries out this mandate with consultations with stakeholders in the electoral process, including the political parties.
During the latest consultation with stakeholders, it was agreed that a polling unit should have no more than 1000 voters and no fewer than 750 registered voters.
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INEC has since 2015 created voting units to support polling units that have more than 500 registered voters.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, on March 2, issued the Guidelines for Expanding Access to Polling Units, which contain the thresholds for voting points agreed with the stakeholders.
However, during a training exercise for the heads of operations from its state offices last week, INEC considered pegging the lower limit at 1000 registered voters and the upper limit at 1999 registered voters.
That proposal, which indicated a unilateral amendment of an essential part of the guidelines, caused concerns among some stakeholders.
Although the thresholds the commission announced on Tuesday are also different from those agreed with the stakeholders as stated by the guidelines, they appear to better address the basis for the creation of new polling units, which is to decongest overcrowded polling units and improve voter access to the units.
Decongesting Polling Units
INEC had in 2015 created new voting points in polling units with more than 500 registered voters.
In 2019, the commission raised the threshold to 750 registered voters.
The current exercise is expected to lead to the conversion of those voting points to standalone polling units alongside others that may have met the thresholds.
Eventually, states with more registered voters will get more polling units.