The 2023 General Elections is a high stake election, one that is very consequential and pivotal in charting the course of democracy in Africa at large. With voting already underway across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, TAFAfrica through its first ever PWD Election Hub has been closely observing the elections, specifically the participation of persons with disabilities.
TAFAFRICA PWD ELECTION HUB deployed 700 trained and accredited observers who are currently collecting data on key processes as it relates to PWD participation in the election. TAFAFRICA’s observation of the 2023 General election has the objective of ascertaining the active and increased participation of persons with disabilities in the elections, as well as establishing if the election is inclusive, free, fair, credible, and reflects the supremacy of the electorates’ votes.
TAFAFRICA PWD ELECTION HUB has also set up the first-ever election analysis hub for review and assessment of key issues capable of undermining the active participation of PWDs in the elections. The following are TAFAFRICA PWD ELECTION HUB’s preliminary findings on the conduct of the elections based on data received from 273 field observers out of the 700 deployed.
General Atmosphere of the Elections
Reports from TAFAfrica field observers indicate that the general atmosphere in which the election is being conducted has been peaceful and voting has largely proceeded smoothly without any major reports of violence or disruption of the process. Presently, only 13 PUs out of 128 are yet to register the presence of any security personnel.
Timeliness and Deployment
Data from the areas covered by our observers indicate that only 50 percent of INEC officials had arrived at their polling units by 8:30am.
Data from TAFAFRICA PWD ELECTION HUB Dashboard further showed that only 38% arrived before 8:30, 45% arrived between 8:30am and 9:30am, while 18% arrived after 9:30am. In the South-East zone, many polling units are yet to confirm the arrival of INEC officials.
Data from TAFAfrica observers also show that 44% of Polling units has at least one (1) PWD INEC Adhoc Staff. As regards the availability of important election materials, TAFAFRICA PWD ELECTION HUB data indicated that in at least 83% of polling units sensitive election materials like assistive devices, ballot papers, BVAS, results sheets, ballot boxes and the voter register were available for the conduct of the election.
BVAS And Assistive Devices
TAFAFRICA PWD ELECTION HUB data showed that in all 223 Polling Units, BVAS was available in most except in 3 Polling Units: LG Primary School Ipakodo, Ipakodo Ward, Okorodu LGA in Lagos State, Town Hall in Odurubu/Bolooadurubu Ward in Patani LGA in Delta State and Shopping Complex in Barnawa Ward, Kaduna South LGA in Kaduna. On the availability of assistive devices, Braille Ballot Guide are available only at 26 out of 273 PUs, Magnifying Glasses at 60 out of 273 PUs and Large Font Posters at 90 out of 273 PUs.
INEC was expected to provide 21,165 magnifying glasses at 16,071 polling units for persons with albinism and minor visual impairment, 6,167 posters at 5,085 PUs for those with hearing impairment nationwide and 8,117 braille ballot guides at 5,957 PUs for the visually impaired.
In the FCT for instance, KUBWA VILLAGE/KOFAR SARKI (37-02-09-001) and DEIDEI PRY. SCHOOL FRONT OF PRY TWO BLOCK (37-02-09-059) both in Kubwa Ward, Bwari LGA are expected to have at least 6 and 13 registered visually impaired persons respectively. As such at least 1 braille ballot guide should be provided at these polling units. On the contrary, only large font posters were the only assistive devices made available.
Similarly, persons with albinism are registered at GAMES VILLAGE (37-06-02-139) Garki Ward, LUGBE F.H.A. GATE (37-06-03-014) Kabusa Ward and SABURI II HEALTH CENTER (37-06-12-06) Gwagwa Ward) all in the Municipal. Magnifying glasses are expected at these PUs but magnifying glasses were only provided at LUGBE F.H.A. GATE (37-06-03-014).
Accessibility to Polling Units and Priority Voting
TAFAFRICA PWD ELECTION HUB data showed that 234 out of 273 PUs are accessible, and priority voting is being given to PWDs at 211 PUs out of 273.
Accreditation and Voting
Observer data from the election observation platform showed all Polling Units reported the presence of at least one party agent. Out of 223 PUs, TAFAfrica observers reported the presence of 0ne to 5 PWD Party agents in 95 PUs.
TAFAfrica PWD Election Hub observers will continue to keep a close watch on the election up till when voting ends, and counting and collation of results begin. Further updates on findings will be provided at the end of voting.