Governance COVID-19: Low Voter Turnout May Mar Gubernatorial Elections in...

COVID-19: Low Voter Turnout May Mar Gubernatorial Elections in Edo, Ondo States

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BY Tobi Ojetunde |

A report has indicated that the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo States may witness low voter turnout as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

The study conducted by a non-governmental organization, Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) also revealed that majority of the respondents are not comfortable with going out to the polling booth to cast their vote.

Download and read the report here

The survey, which sampled 890 potential voters in both Edo and Ondo States, intended to understand voters’ perception about elections in the two states amidst the COVID 19 pandemic.

As at the time of collating this report, Nigeria has a total of 10,162 confirmed cases while Edo and Ondo have 284 and 25 cases respectively.

The study had respondents cutting across the youth 77.8%; middle age 16.9% and the elderly 5.4% respectively. In seeking to know the citizens’ opinion on the ways the pandemic would affect the elections in the two states, responses varied.

A larger percentage says the pandemic would result in low voter turnout (48.1%). Others say election logistics would be affected (19.1%).

Some of the respondents averred that conducting elections would lead to a surge in the number of cases of the virus in the two states while 14.9% said it would undermine the credibility of the election.

“On how voters would turn out for the elections, 82% of the respondents say they would go and vote if INEC provides preventive measures and implement mitigation guidelines, while 18% does not support that. In Edo state, 46% of the respondents believe the rate of infections would have subsided before the election in the state. In terms of the confidence level of people trooping out, 75% of the respondents believe people will come out to vote despite the virus.

“On what should be done on the elections in the face of the pandemic, 67% says the elections should be held under strict safety measures, 26.8% of the respondents favour postponement while 5.3% avers that the elections should be held with manual processes,” the report revealed.

The report also stated that 48.3% of voters in the two states show preference for electronic voting while 36% go for internet voting. 11% of the respondents suggest mail voting and 3.8% choose other options. The study also sought to know how comfortable the voters would be casting their votes at the polling booth.

“71%  of the respondents are not comfortable with going out to the polling booth to cast their vote. Some 25.5% say they are comfortable while 10.8% declare they are indifferent. On the confidence of credibility of the election process, a large percentage (67.2%) of the respondents is confident while 32.8% express no confidence in elections conducted under such circumstances as presented by the COVID 19,” it added.

The report recommended that the Nigerian election management body should strictly implement safety procedures by ensuring physical distancing, provision of personal protection equipment for election personnel.

Political parties were equally charged to devise campaign methods that would involve fewer crowd.It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission has announced its commitment to conduct the two governorship elections due for later in the year despite the ravaging pandemic.

“The body was also advised to collaborate with other government institutions to mount innovative and aggressive voter education campaigns while not overlooking adequate planning to avoid logistic issues as witnessed in previous elections,” the report said.

The gubernatorial Elections in Edo and Ondo States is scheduled to hold on September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively.

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