The Nigerian Senate has passed a bill giving INEC powers to conduct elections by Electronic Voting. This step is designed to guarantee free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. However, we will be looking into this law and examining electronic voting to see if it will work in Nigeria as electronic voting will be the first of its kind in Nigeria voting system.
Below is the review of the bill and how possible electronic voting is going forward:
1) There shall now be full biometric accreditation of voters with Smart Card Readers and other technological devices, as INEC may introduce for elections from time to time. This is a continuation of the 2015 general elections which Smart Card readers and other devices were used. This is possible but require improvements as there were malfunctions of the devices that were used.
2) Presiding Officers must now instantly transmit accreditation data and results from Polling Units to various collation centres. A presiding officer who contravenes this shall be imprisoned for at least five years (no option of fine). We are assuming that this data transmission will be done through mail or through a device which may require the use of internet which may not be difficult given the fact that the internet facility in Nigeria is not of top speed.
3) Besides manual registers, INEC is now mandated to keep Electronic registers of voters. This has to do with INEC having a standard database which is possible but will require a lot of work and investment into INEC database system.
4) INEC is now mandated to publish voters’ registers on its official website(s) for public scrutiny at least 30 days before a general election, and any INEC staff who is responsible for this but fails to act as prescribed shall be liable on conviction to 6 months’ imprisonment. This is possible if INEC develops its website to accommodate this data and easy to use for people looking to login to the website.
5) INEC is now mandated to keep a National Electronic Register of Election Results as a distinct database or repository of polling unit by polling unit results for all elections conducted by INEC. Like we early pointed out this will require INEC putting a lot of work into its data base.
6) Collation of election result is now mainly electronic, as transmitted unit results will help to determine final results on real time basis. This is possible but will require the provision of electronic machines at collation centres with will require electricity and other factors.