The Independent National Electoral Commission has ruled out use of branded face masks at election venues and electronic transmission of results in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo.
The election regulator announced its revised guidelines in its quarterly consultative meeting with the media holding virtually for the first time on Wednesday.
It has previously held virtual meetings with leaders of 18 registered political parties and civil-society groups ahead of voting slated for September 19 in Edo and October 10 in Ondo.
Masks will be allowed as part of public-health protection measures, but people wearing branded face masks will be turned away, said INEC national commissioner in charge of operations Okechukwu Ibeanu.
“Wearing of face mask at Polling Units and all election locations is mandatory. Please make provision for your own face mask,” he said.
“Face masks must be worn at all times, but an election official may request you to lower your mask for proper identification when necessary and anyone that is symptomatic to COVID-19 would be isolated immediately.”
INEC says it has no logistics to provide face masks at polling units for 6.4 million voters expected at the polls. That would cost it N640m at N100 per mask, said Ibeanu.
He added no laws backed electronic transmission of results from both elections yet.
He said, “The commission had suspended the continuous registration of voters at least for now due to COVID-19 and would collapse some collation centres into one as well as collapsing the registration area centres (RACs).
“Voting starts by 8.30 am and stops at 2.30 pm. There shall be two queues formed at each polling location (Polling Unit or Voting Point). The first queue (the outer queue) will be outside, from which an election official shall bring voters into the voting area in batches. The second queue (the inner queue) will be formed in the voting area.
“By 2.30 pm, an election official shall stand at the end of the outer queue indicating that the queue is closed. Any voter on the outer queue by 2.30 pm shall be allowed to vote. Queues must be orderly and voters on a queue must maintain a distance of 2 meters (6 feet) from each other”.
He said that any voter showing symptoms of COVID-19 such as high temperature, coughing, sneezing among others will be requested to leave the queue or voting area and shall be attended to by designated officials.
The commission further requested voters to ensure that they go away with their used protective materials like face masks and hand gloves, urging them not to litter it at the polling units.
The commission asked voters to remember that cell phones or any other device that can take pictures are still not allowed in the voting cubicles and the it would not tolerate assault of any election official as culprits may be prosecuted for doing so.