One of the popular sayings among citizens of countries where they’ve lost confidence in their leaders and the electoral system is that “election results have been decided before the actual casting of the ballot”. It sounds complicated, but they say so because of the persistent rigging of elections.
For instance, some Nigerians believe that their votes do not count until the Electoral Act of 2022 came into effect. The new electoral law was put to test in Ekiti and Osun Governorship Election. The new electoral act allows the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) to transmit election results via the electronic system.
The electronic transmission of election results among other amendments in the electoral law in Nigeria has made it impossible to hijack election materials after the closing of voting.
Section 62 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 clearly explains the importance of a national electronic register of election results thus:
“The Commission shall compile, maintain and update, on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a distinct database or repository of polling unit by polling unit results, including collated election results, of each election conducted by the Commission in the Federation, and the Register of Election Results shall be kept in electronic format by the Commission at its national headquarters.”Electoral Act 2022
With this in place, you can rest assured that your vote will count in the 2023 general elections and beyond.
Though there are still some challenges, it is a step ahead of what the most populous country use to have from 1999 to 2015. There is still a need for improvement.
The fact that it is your right to vote if you’ve attained the voting age (18) and electoral law is there to protect your vote, doesn’t mean you should fold your arms and expect the change you’ve always dreamed of to happen without taking action.
You have to take steps to make your voice hear and make your vote count. You have to exercise your voting right and stand by your votes to make them count as a good citizen who is playing their part in the continuous development of a country.
So, how can you make your vote count? What steps should you take to make your vote count without resorting to violence?
American singer and songwriter believes change doesn’t happen when citizens take no action when she says:
“It’s not enough to just want change … You have to go and make change by voting.” Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift
Does it really matter for me to vote?
Irrespective of your voting strength as a geopolitical zone or state, if you fail to come out on Election Day, you’ve lost that power.
Especially, election day goes beyond casting your vote for your preferred candidate, those who get your vote have the ability to decide on measures, economic, social, security, and education policies that impact you. Your vote is your voice, you must make it heard.
You can cast your ballot on security policies by asking yourself: Has the ruling party been able to protect you and the interest of your country as a people?
How is the ruling party handling the rise in the price of goods and services, external borrowing, and monetary and economic policies that have a direct impact on your business and standard of living?
So, it does matter that you cast your vote on Election Day. Your votes matter and could usher in the desired changed you’ve always been wanted as a citizen.
By voting, you are also indirectly taking a decision on who runs the affairs of your country and who represents you at the National Assembly. You must make your voice heard on how you think the government should operate and spend your money (taxes).
Ways to Make Your Vote Count
February every four years in Nigeria, November every four years in the United States of America is known as Election Day. That’s when you hear your vote counts. How can you make it count?
That is when electorates vote in federal and state elections. It allows electorates to vote for state governors, federal lawmakers, state lawmakers, and the president to steer the country’s affairs.
Collection of Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC)
If you are 18 years and above, the first part of the voting process is to register and get a Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) by registering on INEC Continuous Voters Registration Portal to pre-register online. That’s the process in Nigeria, follow the process in your country.
If you are unable to get your PVC because of logistic problems on the part of INEC, you can still get involved by supporting the campaign such as talking to people about your candidate if you believe in the manifesto of a candidate and their party.
If you are able to convince just one person who is eligible to vote, just one vote may not directly elect the president, but if that one vote joins enough others in your polling unit, local government and state, that one vote undoubtedly matters and counts when it comes to electoral results.
Obey Voting Guide
For those who are eligible to vote and have collected their PVC, there are voting guidelines you are expected to abide by. One of them is to follow the instructions from the electoral umpire and security officials on election duty.
Take Your PVC to Polling Booth
Keeping your Voters Card under your pillow on the day of the election will not help your desired candidate in an election. Rather, it’s a systematic way to allow the unqualified candidates the chance to win an election.
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”Abraham Lincoln
Be sure to Be At the Correct Polling Unit
Nigeria has not gotten to a stage where electorates can cast their vote online or wherever they find themselves. We hope the electoral commission gets there one day.
For now, electorates can only cast their votes at the polling where they registered. For your votes to count, you also must be at the unit your registers. And you be sure that PVC presented belongs to you.
Drop the Ballot Paper in the Ballot Box
You must ensure that your vote is valid by thumb printing on the right space against your preferred party. It is also important to drop the ballot paper in the ballot box.
A former first lady of the United States (2009-2017), author, speaker and attorney corroborated Taylor’s statement on the advantage of voting during elections:
“You’ve got to vote, vote, vote, vote. That’s it; that’s the way we move forward.”Michelle Obama
Watch the Process Up To Declaration of Result
There are two options when voting ends: 1) Leave the polling unit and 2) wait to monitor vote counting. If you choose to, you must do so in an orderly manner to really make your vote count. Resorting to violence at the polling unit may lead to cancellation of votes cast in your unit or rescheduling of election in the unit.
- Federal Government Printer (2022). “Electoral Act, 2022”
- Sophie Partridge-Hicks (October 9, 2020). “15 Inspirational Quotes to Get You Excited About Voting”. globalcitizen.org
- Independent National Electoral Commission. “How To Vote”. inecnigeria.org