Get-Out-the-Vote Project is a Program implemented by Community Links & Human Empowerment Initiative (CLHEI) with support from the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) in Benue state. NDI through CLHEI seeks to increase the participation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the electoral processes by creating awareness about the benefits of voting and engage with key stakeholders to remove all barriers to IDP voting in line with the INEC-IDP Voting Framework 2019 ahead of the 2023 general elections in Benue state, Nigeria.
In collaboration with the Benue State INEC, Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA), National Orientation Agency, Security Agencies and other key electoral stakeholders, CLHEI leveraged on its knowledge and experience working with IDPs over the years, and the respect and convening power it has among IDPs in encouraging election participation. In the light of the above background, CLHEI was able to make valid recommendations toward the legal framework review for Voting by Internally Displaced Persons with 4 out of 7 recommendations fully or partially adopted (2 fully adopted, 2 Partially adopted) by INEC Nigeria. CLHEI facilitated over 828 Internally Displaced Persons to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) within camps & host communities, mobilized and conducted voter education campaigns through theatre for development reaching over 6400 IDPs and advocated for the situation of voting centres within IDP camps and in host communities for easy access to IDPs reintegrated into those communities to ensure they vote during the 2023 general elections in Benue State. Activities were successfully implemented in the context of this project.
CLHEI ensured through several community engagements and stakeholders’ consultative meetings for Voting centers to be situated within some selected IDP camps and other locations within host communities that were easily accessible, safe and secure to IDPs. This resulted to Benue State having 59 voting centers (55 in host communities within a 20minutes walking distance and 4 within the IDP camps) across 6 LGAs. Following the 2023 general elections, a total number of registered voters in the IDP Voting centers were 158,578, total numbers of accredited voters were 95,259, and the total number of votes cast in the IDP voting centers was 89,386. The voter turnout of IDP voters stood at 56.4%. It is therefore clear that the voter education campaign through theatre for development and the establishment of these voting center’s allowed the IDPs in Benue to exercise their franchise.
CLHEI also ensured that host community members and internally displaced persons were brought together to establish and own the entire planning and voter education process, which helped to further strengthen cohesion and also engender a pathway of sustainability for future interventions.
During the course of implementation, a key lesson learnt was that even though IDPs have PVCs, they still need massive voter education and awareness campaign to encourage them to vote and understand that, elections are fundamental to a democratic process because it provides them with opportunities to choose representatives and create measures for government accountability.