Electoral technology as a potential game changer, by Olasupo Abideen

The 2023 general election will see many complexities from the run-up to election day and the post-election period, but one concept that may be the biggest game-changer in the election is the role it will play. technology to determine the credibility and transparency of the process. The marked success in the deployment of technological innovations such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the Results Visualization Portal is a great sign that the electoral management process is constantly improving. Furthermore, the recent revelation by the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, that there were several attempts to hack his system during the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections is another sign that the commission appears to be armed. to administer its electoral system. technology.

Right now, Nigerians are gradually saying goodbye to the dark days when voter registration was infested with foreign names and those days when election results are announced while voting is still ongoing. It is also noteworthy to remember the dark days of Nigeria’s electoral journey and how the 22 innovations introduced by the electoral management body, including IREV and BVAS, have allowed the nation to move light years away from its electoral debacle. Professor Mahmood Yakubu’s recent revelation shows that the commission has carried out 105 elections using the IREV, while uploading 32,985 (99.13%) out of a total of 33, 275 have recorded a 100% loading rate on the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections just concluded. Aside from voting, results management is easily the most critical aspect of election administration, as voting is an open and public activity, results management is typically handled by a few election officials, mostly outside the the public gaze. Therefore, it is necessary to promote its transparency in the best possible way. Other innovations that appear to have improved the system include biometric voter registration, computer-based voter registration, online pre-registration, permanent voter cards (PVCs) with chips, the creation of online portals for candidates, observers, and representatives of political parties, among others. have come a long way in standardizing Nigeria’s electoral management system.

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While this is still a work in progress towards an election that meets the world standard for credibility and integrity, Nigerians should cherish their journey towards substantial electoral technology deployment. Beginning in 2011, the electoral commission showed its commitment to improving the conduct of elections by leveraging technology through the introduction of smart card readers. While the introduction of the smart card reader (SCR) and its use in registering accreditation data was crucial in limiting malpractice and proxy voting, the fact that it was not backed by law means that the process was manipulated since the manual process was legally recognized. in law Despite this, the SMR played an important role in helping the President to be “satisfied” that the Permanent Voter Card being presented is a legitimate voting card, and that the voter is actually the person on registration, both of which are required by law. This is the beginning of Nigeria’s election technology trajectory, even as election stakeholders continued to push for an election amendment legalizing the deployment of technology and the electronic transmission of the results of the elections.

The main turning point in the Nigerian electoral process so far was the breakthrough with the new Electoral Act 2022, which empowered the Commission to adopt electronic means for both accreditation and results management. Indeed, the Commission’s persistence on these issues, particularly results management, is now well expressed in the existing legal framework, administrative procedures and technological innovations recently introduced by the Commission. However, it is imperative to state that while election stakeholders delight in technology, the innovations do not completely rule out the manual process, but rather serve as an effective quality assurance and indicator of standardization in electoral administration. .

However, it is not yet time for complacency as the 2023 election, which is considered one of the biggest elections on the continent, is upon us. The challenges that lie ahead in avoiding any windows that politicians might exploit to discredit the process cannot be underestimated. Nigeria’s voter registration must be accurately audited to provide the authentic figures of registered voters, while a constant update of the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) must be made available in the public space. Therefore, prior to elections, data collected for PVCs can further promote transparency and be used to determine voter turnout rates. Likewise, there is a need to intensify the training of ad hoc personnel to allow the effective handling of technological devices. This will avoid situations where incorrect forms and in some cases unsealed forms were uploaded to IREV during the Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections as 2023 approaches.

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With just 5 months to go before the all-important general election, there is no doubt that some elements are constantly developing their own stratagem to circumvent and manipulate the process, as recent electoral experience shows that the commission appears to be one step ahead from the first moment. weather. Other electoral stakeholders, especially Nigerian security agencies and civil society organizations, have an important role to play in protecting the sanctity of the electoral process before, during and after the elections. This will not only increase citizens’ confidence in the process, but also increase citizen participation in the process to reach at least 50% voter turnout.

Olasupo Abideen is an enthusiast of good governance, youth investment and public policy. Abideen serves as the Kwara State Coordinator of the NotTooYoungToRun movement and is the Executive Director of the Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative. He sends the comments and opinions of him to [email protected] Tweet @opegoogle.

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