Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, YIAGA AFRICA’s WatchingTheVote (WTV) has concluded plans to train 48 recruited State Focal Points(SFP) representing the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory on the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT); a special election day observation methodology that deploys statistics and information and communication technology to systematically observe the election.

The PVT Academy which is scheduled to hold in Abuja, from June 12 to June 13 2018 present an opportunity for YIAGA AFRICA to build the capacity of the newly recruited State Focal Points (SFP’s) who will be responsible for building a state structure for the project which includes recruiting Local Government Area (LGA) supervisors in the 774 LGA’s in Nigeria while also observing the pre-election environment.

With the 2019 election about 248 days away, the days leading to the election remain the most critical especially as the prospects for electoral integrity remain a leading conversation on the election discourse.

Having deployed observers to observe the Continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise, the political party primaries in Ekiti State and currently observing the pre-election environment in Ekiti State, the WTV findings so far indicates an increasing interest by citizens to participate in the process.

Findings also indicates an apparent gap in the level of citizen’s confidence in the electoral process while identifying the activities of political parties as possible threats to a credible and peaceful election.

At YIAGA AFRICA, the goal for Watching the Vote is to build a movement of citizens committed to electoral integrity by providing accurate and timely information on the elections and verifying the outcome of the election.

As part of the activities towards the comprehensive observation of the 2019 general elections, the PVT Academy will include sessions on; ‘understanding the electoral process’, ‘principles for election observation’, ‘deploying the parallel vote tabulation for data-driven election observation’, effectively observing the pre-election environment and recruiting the LGA supervisors.

The Academy will also provide a broad overview of the WTV project, discuss YIAGA’s plan for the observation of the 2019 Presidential election, the role of the SFPs as well as discuss the broad timelines for the WTV project.

For the 2019 presidential election, the YIAGA WTV will conduct a PVT drawing on statistical principles and using information technology to provide systematic data on the quality of Election Day processes and to verify the accuracy of the official results.

To achieve this, YIAGA will recruit, train and deploy accredited observers to specific polling units in every LGA in the 36 State to systematically collate and rapidly share their reports via coded SMS (text) messages with the WTV Data Centre where the data is analyzed and findings shared with the public.

For the 2019 election, this initiative involves a comprehensive observation of the pre-election period (beginning with voter registration), tracking of early warning signs, activities of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties (candidate nominations and rallies) and other election stakeholders, using advanced observation methodologies.

This is because the PVT provide the most timely and accurate information on the conduct of voting and counting, and is the only observation methodology that can independently verify the accuracy of official INEC election results.

While the stage is being set for 2019, YIAGA’s Watching the Vote remains committed to electoral integrity and will be constantly providing a platform for discourse on the election by providing timely data on the process and advancing evidence based electoral reform advocacy.