On June 27th, 2021, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commenced the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) for eligible citizens who are 18 and above, those new registrants, and citizens who lost, defaced, or damaged cards to register. The CVR birthed the maiden edition of an online pre-registration opportunity to citizens at all levels.
Following advocacies and recommendations by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) innovatively executed the CVR exercise in components. First, through an online pre-registration process to avert congestion at registration centres, and secondly, the in-person or physical registration for biometrics to conclude the registration process. This initiative undoubtedly provided ease for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) participation to engage in the process.
According to INEC 4th quarter week 13 CVR report, cumulative data of registrants had completed their registrations out of which 3,357,188 were done online, while 6,782,059 were done via physical registration. Out of this data, 5,022,392 of the registrants that completed their registrations were males; while 5,116,855 were females and 75,422 were Persons With Disabilities.
Despite awareness and mobilizations by CSOs and the Organization of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), many PWDs are yet to register for their Permanent Voters Card (PVC). According to the Inclusive Friends 2021 Data for Inclusion report, some challenges that limit their participation in CVR exercises were access to registration centers and the digital smart tools to register independently. Similarly, PWDs who have access to smart tools are not literate enough to go through the process online. Also, the report gathered that the centralization of registration centres at the commissions’ local government offices discouraged PWDs to avail for registration as distance, cost, means of transportation, and other economic factors did not permit the opportunity to participate in the registration process. Worthy of note, many PWDs also experience attitudinal barriers at registration centres.
Following the extended deadline to close all registration by the Commission, there is a need for urgent mobilization to increase the registration of PWDs in the CVR exercise to enable their participation in elections.
In order to increase PWDs participation in the electoral process, the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) will mobilize eligible citizens with disabilities who are yet to register or wish to transfer, apply for renewal of damaged or defaced cards or to make updates on the INEC register an opportunity to register. Through a community-based approach, IFA will reach a wide community of PWDs in their comfort zones to experience the CVR exercise.
The objective of this mobilization is to register more citizens with disabilities in the Continuous Voter Registration exercise in the FCT.
This effort is in partnership with INEC, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), the Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) and OPDs. The mobilization will target special schools, and local communities to set up registration booths and engage PWDs for the CVR registration. Using arts and music, to win attention, IEC materials will be shared to sensitize the citizens on the need to register for PVC and other electoral processes.
To complement the activities, we will use conventional and social media platforms to increase awareness and mobilize PWDs to register before the end date through jingles, video skits, and graphics. This platform will also provide and inspire citizens towards active and sound political participation in the democratic process
The PWDs – CVR Campaign “VOTE-ability” will target all clusters of Persons with Disabilities eligible to vote and who are yet to register in the CVR as focal beneficiaries, however, the intervention may not be limited to the PWD community.
Noteworthy are PWD priority registration and the new data collection form which will collect data disaggregated by disabilities.
The Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) wishes to thank the NCPWD for their Financial and technical support, INEC for their technical support, JONAPWD, and all other OPDs for their support in diverse ways towards ensuring the success of this project.
Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA).