Most faculties of the University of Ilorin hold their elections a day after the SU elections, which stands to be tomorrow, 21st of January, 2021, but in some faculties, it is almost certain students will be unable to vote, even though they’re fit and willing to exercise their voting rights, even without any technological barrier.
Last year, a huge number of students of the Faculty of Arts were disenfranchised from voting after the electoral committee stopped all voting processes by 1:30 pm, even as many students remained on the voting queue who had not cast their vote yet. And this year, very little has been done to mitigate this from happening again.
The Faculty of Arts constitution states in Section Eleven, subsection C, item iv that “voting shall start on election day 8:00 am and end at 4:00 pm or as otherwise decided by the electoral committee.” Another bill that was assented to by the Student Representatives Council states in Section 3, item V that “voting shall start on election day at 8:00 am and end by 3:00 pm or as otherwise decided by the electoral committee.” According to both the FASA constitution and bill, the electoral committee retains discretion on when voting closes, and in a faculty of over five thousand students and arguably the third most populous on campus, the electoral commission has decided that it’s the best voting – done with the ballot and paper process – ends by 1:30 pm.
The incident from last year did not go unnoticed, many students who were unable to vote were students of the Department of History and International Studies, and It most certainly ruined inter-departmental relationships.
With this year’s election fast approaching, it’s important to note that the same mechanisms are in motion. The electoral commission has done almost nothing to prevent history from repeating. According to the press release from the electoral committee outlining the campaign and electoral process, the election is scheduled to hold on Friday from 8 am to 1 pm.
I spoke with students of the faculty who were unable to vote last year, including one who raised the bill to extend the timeframe and submitted a letter of complaint to the concerned staff of the faculty, though yet to receive a response or notice any action taken towards the issue.
In their defense, the electoral committee has doubled its members from seven to 14 and repeatedly cites that Friday is a short day and that Muslims need to go to Jumaat prayer, thus why elections need to end by 1 pm.
At the SU level, it’s certain many students would not be able to vote due to technological constraints, but it’s important to remember that even at faculty levels, with smaller populations and a more hands-on non-techy electioneering process, it’s still very possible for students to be disenfranchised from their right to vote.