By Anthonia Adi
Nigeria needs a better electoral system that will eliminate rigging; electoral fraud, and other irregularities to ensure free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process, and this can be done by the adoption and use of electronic collation and transmission of election result. Electronic collation and Transmission of election results is the use of electronic software to send results directly from the polling Units to the INEC database. This to a reasonable level will help detect election malpractices in our electoral system.
In 2012 and 2016, Ghana deployed strong digital components for their elections. In similar light, Namibia held the continent’s first ever digital election in 2014. Currently, Zimbabwe is mulling the use of biometric voter recognition in 2018 while Botswana is considering conducting fully digital elections in 2019. Sources also reveal that Nigeria is warming up to use electronic collation and transmissions of election result come 2019.
The provisions to allow for Electronic Transmission and Collation of Election Results in the amended Electoral Act as passed by the National Assembly if assented will be to help move the nation forward. It will give room for Free, fair and credible elections, and also will reduce the time between voting activities and results publication to the barest minimum, as manipulation of election is often done between voting and the announcement of the results. Generally, it will enhance the election result management system by ensuring the accurate and transparent management of election results from polling units to the INEC Database. There is a saying which goes thus: “Whoever cast the votes, decide nothing, and those who count the votes decide everything”.
The huge cost associated with the deployment is, however, a factor to be considered. The fact that a technology-based election may run a higher risk of uncertain performance failure and can potentially destabilize the process of an election if the situation is not well managed. Like in 2015 general elections, though not widespread, the Smart Card readers failed to capture fingerprints and verify cards in some polling units which led to the spill of elections to the next day. Also during the 2016 Ghana general elections, the Electoral Commission had to abandon electronic transmission of results and resort to manual collation, with the Commission explaining that its electronic systems may have been compromised. If the risk are well manage it will go a long way to improve and build citizens confidence in the electoral process in the country.
Using Electronic devices for collation and transmission of election results will eliminate results manipulation by reducing manual intervention to the barest minimum, significantly promote transparency and accuracy of election results and make the process verifiable for everyone.
Card reader Image credit: Independent News
Anthonia Adi is a Research Officer for YIAGA AFRICA and Zonal Program Officer for South-East under YIAGA’s Watching the Vote.