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A report has shown that low voter turnout may mar the 2020 Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections, due to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

The report was published by Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI), a youth-focused non-profit organisation that advances good governance, democratic rights, public policy, public engagement and sustainable economy.

The study was carried out to assess the possible impact COVID-19 will have on the upcoming election in Edo and Ondo states and to collect necessary data to evaluate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the active participation of citizens in the elections.

The analysis surveyed 890 respondents in total including 510 and 380 residents from Edo and Ondo respectively. The survey was done in May.

According to the report titled – ‘COVID- 19 and Elections Survey Report: low voter turnout may mar 2020 Edo and Ondo States Gubernatorial elections because of COVID-19’, “most indigenes (48.1%) of Edo and Ondo States’ say it is likely Low Voters Turnout mar the September 19, 2020 and October 10, 2020 gubernatorial elections in the states because of the fear of contracting COVID-19 disease and the uncertainties that came with COVID-19 such as lack of viable vaccines.”

“Yet, majority (82%) in Edo and Ondo State say they will vote if INEC, in conjunction with public health experts provide preventive and mitigation guidelines and measures such as Physical Distancing, Personal Protective Equipment and Hand Sanitizers while 18% oppose this,” it noted.

“More than half of respondents believe COVID-19 pandemic will subside before the elections; With just over 100 days until Edo State Election Day (September 19, 2020) and over 132 days until Ondo State Election Day (October 10, 2020).

“Two-thirds (65.6%) of Edo and Ondo State natives say it is very likely that the coronavirus outbreak will significantly disrupt people’s confidence and willingness to vote in the gubernatorial elections.

“20% say it’s somewhat likely COVID-19 disrupt voter’s confidence and willingness to vote in the gubernatorial elections. Just little fraction, (14.4%), think COVID-19 is unlikely going to affect voter’s confidence and willingness to vote in the gubernatorial elections.

READ ALSO: INEC approves new policy for conducting elections amidst coronavirus

“Even though, many feel the upcoming elections could be disrupted by COVID-19, less than half of the respondents feel confident that the voters willing to defile all odds to vote in the upcoming elections will be able to do so in Edo and Ondo States.”

Postponing the election

“Nevertheless, sizable majority (67.9%) opposed that the upcoming election should be postponed, they expect INEC to conduct the gubernatorial elections under strict safety guidelines and measures such as physical distancing, personal protective equipment for election official, wearing of face mask and hand sanitizer etc.

“26.8% say INEC should postpone the gubernatorial election till further notice. While 5.3% said INEC should just conduct the election using the usual processes and procedures.”

Credible Elections?

“Overall, the confidence of the respondent that the upcoming gubernatorial elections will be conducted credibly is dwindling. Less than half (40%) of the respondents are confident of credible elections. 27.2% of the respondents are somewhat confident of credible elections while 32.8% of the respondents are not confident the upcoming gubernatorial elections will be conducted credibly.

“This shows that the confidence level and trust of the citizen in the conduct of election is becoming gradually less.”

Recommendations

“INEC should ensure adequate implementation of all safety procedures as contained in the policy document the commission released on May 21, 2020 on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Political parties and their candidates should engage their party members on how to ensure safety during elections and also on participating actively in the elections.

“Political parties should also employ innovative means of reaching out to voters instead of the usual large campaign gatherings.

“As far as it is practicable, CSOs that will carry out Voter Education and Sensitization should employ innovative methods of sensitising voters to reduce physical meetings and large gatherings.”

INEC fixed the Edo governorship election for September 19 while that of Ondo State was fixed for October 10.

Despite the ravaging coronavirus pandemic in the country, INEC has said it would not postpone the elections.

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