Bayelsa Polls: YIAGA AFRICA Parleys Journalists, Calls for Accurate Election Reporting

Ahead of the November 16th Governorship elections in Bayelsa state, YIAGA AFRICA has called on Journalists in Bayelsa state to leverage on accurate data from its Watching The Vote project in reporting election related issues in the state. Recognising the important role media play in the electoral process, YIAGA AFRICA on Friday 13th September, convened journalists in Bayelsa state to discuss how the upcoming November 16th, Governorship elections will be reported using accurate data.

During the round table discussion held in Yenagoa, YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV Project Director, Cynthia Mbamalu reiterated the project’s commitment to provide timely information on the election process, starting from the pre-election environment. According to her, Watching The Vote is a comprehensive observation of the electoral process which includes the observation of the political party primaries, pre-election environment in all Local government areas and the election day observation which deploys the Parallel Vote Tabulation.

“We just concluded the training of Long-Term Observers from all Local Government Areas in the state who will serve as pre-election observers and will also be recruiting observers from sampled polling units”, she said.  According to her, Pre-election observers will be observing political party campaigns, Voter education activities by election stakeholders, activities of the electoral commission like distribution of Permanent Voters Card. She said the pre-election environment is very crucial as it goes a long way in determining what happens during the election period. “We will also be monitoring violent indicators to enable us build early warning systems in order to prevent or mitigate electoral violence”, she said

For the election day, YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching the Vote will be using an advanced election day observation methodology called the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). The PVT is a systematic observation of the voting and counting process at a representative random sample of polling units using statistical principle and information and communication technologies (ICTs) to rapidly transmit observer reports from the Polling Units to a central database.  Using the PVT, YIAGA AFRICAs WTV carefully samples polling units using time-tested statistical principles to ensure that the sample is both representative and unbiased.

Using this methodology, observer reports are sent via SMS to a central database which enables WTV analyse and share timely findings on the conduct of the election in near real-time. The PVT also is the only methodology that allows non-partisan observer groups verify the accuracy of the official election results.

Also speaking at the media round table is Chairman of the National Union of Journalists, Samuel Numonengi who commended YIAGA AFRICA’s election observation plans while urging journalists to remain professional in the cause of their reportage.  Similarly Chairperson of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Maria Olodie said, the WTV project is timely as it will help harmonise elections reports by journalists in the state.

During the interactive session, journalists raised concerns relating to location of polling units at personal residence which usually encourage malpractice and sometimes leads to electoral violence while calling on the electoral commission to review the situation. Other issues raised includes the possible volatility of the state especially during elections calling on Security Agencies to remain professional and non-partisan in the discharge of their responsibilities of protecting lives and properties.

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