The 2019 General elections will be the first time I got a chance to finally exercise my right to vote.
I remember being in school during the previous election and promising myself to be present at all cost at this year’s election, and here we are.
Thinking back, I wonder why I was so intrigued by the idea of voting at the time. You’d have thought it was some lottery, but I guess it was because voting implied that I had finally become an adult. I have also always been the kind of girl that preferred experiencing things on her own as opposed to making her conclusions from other people’s experiences.
Anyways, this is not why we are here.
I woke up the morning of the election feeling very unsure.
Unsure if I wanted to waste my time walking the distance to cast a vote that would probably not count and most importantly, unsure who to even vote for.
My excitement about voting had only lasted up to the week before, on finding out the election was postponed. I wasn’t sure I wanted to bother anymore.
A little voice in my head kept telling me to just enjoy the day off and sleep in for as long as I wanted.
A second voice nudged me to vote; this was my first opportunity to make a difference whether it mattered or not, I still needed to do my part.
I listened to the second voice, got off my bed, got ready and headed out with members of my family that were interested in voting.
The first and only challenge I had was in figuring out where my polling unit was. I had been so sure I had this part of my day on lock only to have been wrong.
I stopped by at three other polling units before finally getting to mine.
If I had been alone, considering the stress I went through trying to find the place, I probably would’ve turned and gone back to bed.
It took roughly 40 minutes to finally figure out where my polling unit was.
Our decision to leave home early paid off, as only a couple of people were present at the polling unit when we arrived.
The first thing we did was re-confirm we were at the right place (Once bitten, twice shy right?). We confirmed our names and serial numbers from the register posted around the polling unit.
It took another 40minutes or thereabout for the INEC officials to set up, so this meant standing by and waiting for their signal to begin.
During this time, officials gave an explanation on how the voting was going to take place, what voters needed to do, what ballot paper needed to go into what ballot box, amongst others. This was useful information for a novice like me.
The signal was given to begin and I was lucky enough to be second in line.
The first thing that was done was getting our PVC’s verified by a card reader as well as finger prints taken.
The person ahead of me had issues with the card reader reading his finger prints so I was a little scared that I was going to have the same problem. I wasn’t prepared to have any more complications.
My turn came and it went smoothly. I moved to the next stage of re-confirming my name on the voters register and getting my nail marked with permanent ink, to show that I had been involved in the voting process.
Finally, we were given three stamped ballot papers to cast our votes in a cubicle and then place the ballot papers in their corresponding boxes.
Side note: For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me that we needed to vote for senatorial and house of representative candidates. I had only been there to cast my vote for my presidential candidate. I remember going through a list of the candidates last minute on my phone whilst waiting for my turn on the line. I’m still unsure if I left the space blank or went ahead to choose a party.
But hey, atleast I voted right?
Before heading out for the election, I had left the house with a survival kit; my power bank, sunglasses, a novel, amongst others thinking the voting experience was going to be as long and stressful as everything else in the country, but it went smoothly.
I left the polling unit a fulfilled patriot. I had done my part by voting for whom I was convinced was credible enough, whoever ended up winning I hoped made a positive difference to the situation of the country..
P.S: I had hoped that because my voting experience went smoothly, other polling centers would have that too but I got home to the news of ballot box snatching, injured as well as killing of voters, logistics issuesto mention but a few. It’s really disheartening that all of these are still very prevalent in the country.
I hope everyone that voted is safe and had a similar or an even better experience than I did.