In Nigeria, the largest citizen movement committed to credible elections has set-up a huge Parallel Vote Tabulation National data center for the 2019 Presidential election. The aim according to the Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu is to provide accurate and timely elections data, verifying accuracy of elections result and building citizens’ confidence in the process.
The Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology is a proven Election Day observation procedure that allows non-partisan citizen observers to observe the election process using Information Communication Technology and Statistics. The PVT enables citizen observers to provide accurate and timely information on arrival of polling officials, commencement of accreditation and voting, functionality of card reader, counting of ballots and announcement of results.
Citizen Observers send their observation reports to the WTV database via coded text messages, which only the database can read. This largest citizen movement has used this method to observe series of elections since 2016 and now the stage is set for a bigger one.
Located at the Rivers Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in the Federal Capital Territory is the YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote Parallel Vote Tabulation National Data Center, which has been a beehive of activities on the 2019 election observation mission. Both local and international observers are on a visiting spree to see how these inspired set of Nigerians operate.
“This is really some great work”, Former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said after a tour of the YIAGA AFRICA’s #WatchingTheVote Parallel Vote Tabulation National Data center ahead of #NigeriaDecides2019. Former President of Botswana, Festus Moghae along with other officials of the election observation mission of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, were also thrilled during their tour of the center ahead of the Presidential elections.
The WTV PVT Data Center is made up of various sections. The Media Center is where the team organizes Press conferences to share findings from the pre-election environment, election observation deployment plan and other timely information for the public. The lounge is treated with banners containing election statistics like the total number of registered voters and zonal distribution of registered voters. The breakdown of polling units and voting points for the general elections with zonal distribution of polling units and voting points are also visibly crested on the wall for information.
Visuals from the WTV Lounge shows visitors reading publications like the Pre-election Observation reports, Newsletters, Press statements, reports and samples of Polling Units. Just at the right angle of the lounge, quality voter education videos on how the PVT has been used to observe and verify accuracy of elections in the recent past are shown on a TV screen.
Having deployed 3906 observers across all Local Government Areas in Nigeria, the data center is made up of at least 82 professionally trained data clerks who call observers across Nigeria to make due diligence on information received. Thrice before the elections, a simulation was conducted where observers send in practice SMS using a scenario that could play out on elections day. The simulation according to Training Manager, Paul James enables the data clerks to update their knowledge of the observers and also enables the team to update the database ahead of elections day.
On Election Day, data clerks will take shifts from as early as 6am, when the polling unit officials kick off the voting process across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, till dawn, when the INEC official results are finally announced to the public. The data clerks, 3906 observers and the WTV team at the National Data Center in Transcorp will be responsible for the Parallel Voters’ Tabulation result estimate that will also be announced on elections day.