Ahead of the 2023 general elections, and in preparation towards the continuous voter registration exercise, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has finally launched an online portal for Nigerians to register as voters.

The portal is expected to go live on Monday, when the online voter registration exercise is scheduled to commence.

Recall that the electoral umpire had stopped the continuous voter registration in August 2018, about six months before the 2019 general elections.

As at then, Nigeria’s total registered voters stood at 84 million, just about 42 percent of the country’s population.

As at the time INEC stopped the distribution of the permanent voter cards, PVCs, few weeks before the 2019 election, at least 11 million voters were yet to collect their PVCs.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that the portal was created for intending registrants to commence the process online, by providing relevant details, before booking an appointment to visit the commission’s office.

They can then visit any INEC state or local government area office to complete the process from July 19, the same day the physical registration is scheduled to start.

Yakubu said that as a result of security challenges in some parts of the country, the commission decided to start the registration online, before it commences fully at all the 2,673 registration centres nationwide on a later date.

He said, “In addition, those who are already registered as voters can carry out all the other activities such as transfers, correction of personal details and replacement of damaged or defaced PVCs online.

“We hope that through this portal, we shall reduce overcrowding at our registration centres, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, make the registration processes generally easier, thereby giving Nigerians a pleasant electoral experience.

“However, I must quickly reiterate that the online registration is a public service and therefore free of charge. There is no INEC-approved cybercafe, no online registration centre and no scratch card to be purchased for the exercise. All you need is a device, including your mobile phones, that can connect to the internet.”

Mahmood added that INEC has acquired all the equipment for the voter registration and has also planned for the deployment of 5,346 staff to the registration centres.

Among the equipment he mentioned is a new registration machine called the INEC voter enrolment device, IVED, which will replace the laptop-based old direct data capture machine, DDCM.

He added, “I am glad to say that our engineers designed the IVED in-house before it was fabricated abroad. It is more mobile and efficient than the DDCM and could also be deployed to other activities, particularly the accreditation of voters during elections.”

Recall that INEC had just recently converted a total of 56,872 voting points and voting point settlements into polling units, to make it easier to vote in elections.

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