The Roles and Challenges of Polling Unit Agents in the 2023 General Elections. A Case Study of Kaduna State
Objective of the study
The objectives of the study are;
- To assess the nature and extent of intimidation, harassment, and violence faced by polling unit agents in Kaduna State during the 2023 general elections.
- To examine the availability and quality of training provided to polling unit agents in Kaduna State, and to identify gaps and areas for improvement.
- To investigate the availability and adequacy of resources, such as communication tools and transportation, provided to polling unit agents in Kaduna State.
- To explore the prevalence and impact of impersonation and vote buying on the ability of polling unit agents to ensure the integrity of the electoral process in Kaduna State.
REVIEWED OF RELATED LITERATURE
The nature and extent of intimidation, harassment, and violence faced by polling unit agents
Intimidation, harassment, and violence against polling unit agents are significant concerns that can undermine the integrity of electoral processes in many countries. While I don’t have access to real-time data, I can provide information based on historical evidence up until September 2021. It is important to note that specific instances and their extent may vary across countries and electoral contexts.
Nature of Intimidation, Harassment, and Violence: Intimidation, harassment, and violence against polling unit agents can take various forms, including:
- a) Verbal Abuse and Threats: Polling unit agents may face verbal abuse, threats, and insults from supporters or agents of opposing political parties or individuals seeking to disrupt the electoral process. Such behavior can create a hostile environment and affect the agents’ ability to perform their duties.
- b) Physical Assault: In some cases, polling unit agents may become victims of physical assault. This can range from minor physical altercations to more serious attacks, leading to injuries and even fatalities. Acts of violence can be perpetrated by political party supporters, criminals, or other elements seeking to disrupt or manipulate the electoral process.
- c) Coercion and Intimidation: Polling unit agents may face various forms of coercion or intimidation, such as being pressured to manipulate or falsify election results, cast ballots fraudulently, or engage in other unethical practices. This can be done through direct threats or indirect means, such as blackmail or extortion.
Extent of Intimidation, Harassment, and Violence: The extent of intimidation, harassment, and violence faced by polling unit agents can vary widely across different countries and electoral contexts. While it is challenging to provide precise statistics, there have been documented instances of such incidents in various regions. Here are a few examples:
- a) Nigeria: In Nigeria’s general elections in 2015, there were reports of violence and harassment targeting polling unit agents. Incidents included physical attacks, abduction, and destruction of polling materials. These incidents were attributed to political rivalries, ethnic tensions, and conflicts over electoral outcomes.
- b) Kenya: During Kenya’s 2017 presidential election, there were reports of violence and intimidation against polling unit agents. Instances included the assault and murder of some polling officers, as well as destruction of election materials. These acts were often linked to political tensions and disputes over the election results.
- c) Zimbabwe: In the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe, there were widespread reports of intimidation and violence against polling unit agents and supporters of opposition parties. Incidents included physical attacks, arson, and displacement of people from their homes. These acts were attributed to political tensions and conflicts over power.
Mitigation and Prevention Measures: To address the intimidation, harassment, and violence faced by polling unit agents, various measures can be taken, including:
- a) Legal Frameworks: Countries can enact and enforce legislation that specifically criminalizes acts of intimidation, harassment, and violence against polling unit agents. Such laws should carry appropriate penalties to deter offenders and ensure accountability.
- b) Training and Capacity Building: Providing training and capacity building programs for polling unit agents can help enhance their knowledge of electoral processes, conflict resolution skills, and techniques to handle potentially volatile situations.
- c) Security Measures: Deploying adequate security personnel to polling stations can help deter acts of intimidation and violence. Additionally, providing security escorts or protection for polling unit agents can contribute to their safety and reduce the risk of targeted attacks.
- d) Public Awareness Campaigns: Conducting public awareness campaigns to promote the importance of free and fair elections, and the rights and safety of polling unit agents, can help foster a culture of respect and non-violence during electoral processes.
It is important for countries to continuously assess and address the challenges related to intimidation, harassment, and violence faced by polling unit agents, as these incidents can have severe implications for the credibility and legitimacy of elections.
In this chapter, we described the research procedure for this study. A research methodology is a research process adopted or employed to systematically and scientifically present the results of a study to the research audience viz. a vis, the study beneficiaries.
Research designs are perceived to be an overall strategy adopted by the researcher whereby different components of the study are integrated in a logical manner to effectively address a research problem. In this study, the researcher employed the survey research design. This is due to the nature of the study whereby the opinion and views of people are sampled. According to Singleton & Straits, (2009), Survey research can use quantitative research strategies (e.g., using questionnaires with numerically rated items), qualitative research strategies (e.g., using open-ended questions), or both strategies (i.e., mixed methods). As it is often used to describe and explore human behaviour, surveys are therefore frequently used in social and psychological research.
POPULATION OF THE STUDY
According to Udoyen (2019), a study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitutes of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description.
This study was carried to examine the roles and challenges of polling unit agents in the 2023 general elections. Kaduna state form the population of the study.
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
This chapter presents the analysis of data derived through the questionnaire and key informant interview administered on the respondents in the study area. The analysis and interpretation were derived from the findings of the study. The data analysis depicts the simple frequency and percentage of the respondents as well as interpretation of the information gathered. A total of eighty (80) questionnaires were administered to respondents of which only seventy-seven (77) were returned and validated. This was due to irregular, incomplete and inappropriate responses to some questionnaire. For this study a total of 77 was validated for the analysis.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the roles and challenges of polling unit agents in the 2023 general elections. A case study of Kaduna state. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the roles and challenges of polling unit agents in the 2023 general elections. A case study of Kaduna state
This study was on the roles and challenges of polling unit agents in the 2023 general elections. A case study of Kaduna state. Three objectives were raised which included: 1. To assess the nature and extent of intimidation, harassment, and violence faced by polling unit agents in Kaduna State during the 2023 general elections, to examine the availability and quality of training provided to polling unit agents in Kaduna State, and to identify gaps and areas for improvement, to investigate the availability and adequacy of resources, such as communication tools and transportation, provided to polling unit agents in Kaduna State and to explore the prevalence and impact of impersonation and vote buying on the ability of polling unit agents to ensure the integrity of the electoral process in Kaduna State. A total of 77 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from ministry of Kaduna. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square statistical tool (SPSS).
In conclusion, the roles of polling unit agents in the 2023 general elections in Kaduna State are crucial for ensuring the integrity and legitimacy of the electoral process. However, the study identified significant challenges such as insufficient training, time constraints, inadequate resources, security concerns, and language/technical barriers that can hinder their effectiveness. Addressing these challenges through comprehensive training programs, resource allocation, security measures, and targeted support will enhance the capabilities of polling unit agents and contribute to a more transparent and credible electoral process in Kaduna State.
Based on the findings of the study on the roles and challenges of polling unit agents in the 2023 general elections in Kaduna State, the following recommendations are proposed to address the identified challenges and enhance the effectiveness of polling unit agents:
- Comprehensive Training Programs: Election management bodies should design and implement comprehensive training programs for polling unit agents. These programs should cover electoral laws, procedures, roles and responsibilities, conflict resolution techniques, and voter assistance. Training sessions should be interactive, practical, and provide agents with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their duties effectively.
- Adequate Resource Allocation: Election authorities should ensure the availability and adequacy of resources for polling unit agents. This includes providing communication tools such as mobile phones or two-way radios, as well as transportation services to facilitate their mobility to and from polling stations. Additionally, the provision of necessary facilities and equipment at polling stations should be prioritized to support the smooth conduct of the electoral process.
- Strengthened Security Measures: Election management bodies and relevant authorities should implement robust security measures to protect polling unit agents and maintain a secure environment at polling stations. This includes deploying adequate security personnel, conducting risk assessments, establishing communication channels for agents to report security concerns, and providing training on personal safety and conflict management.