The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has established a total of 56,872 new polling units in its expansion of voter access drive. This is the first time additional polling units have been created in Nigeria since 1996, when the Commission established the current 119,974 polling units. Efforts to create additional polling units since then have proved controversial until now, in spite of Nigeria’s growing population and the apparent need for more polling units. To address this issue, INEC had created voting points in states and voting point settlements in the Federal Capital Territory, ahead of the 2015 general elections. These have been used in addition to the polling units to conduct elections since then.
During INEC’s expansion of voter access to polling units exercise which commenced in May 2021, the Commission converted voting points and voting point settlements to polling units, and relocated polling units which were not properly situated, such as those in private residences and problematic terrains, to public and accessible locations, with adequate shelter and space, to accommodate election day officials and voters, as well as provide for secrecy of ballots. In a meeting of the INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), on Wednesday, June 16, in Abuja, Mahmood stated that 749 polling were relocated from inappropriate locations, some of which include 232 from private properties, 145 from royal palaces, 21 from churches, nine from shrines and six from mosques. He stated that the others were relocated due to congestion, communal conflict, emergence of new settlements and general insecurity. This brings the total number of polling units in Nigeria to 176,846. The creation of new polling units is coming just as INEC prepares to commence the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.