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Electronic Transmission of Result in Nigeria and why it is Necessary
Electronic transmission or transfer of results remains a significant proposal in the Electoral Act amendment in the current electoral reforms process in Nigeria. The credibility of an election’s outcome is determined by the culmination of interconnected processes of voting, counting of votes and collation of results. In the eco-system of election administration on election day, the voting process and the results collation process are significantly the most important in determining the outcome of the election. Accordingly, guaranteeing that votes count requires a credible voting process that ensures that only duly accredited voters vote, that there is strict compliance with the electoral law and guidelines and that the votes counted are truly the votes collated. The introduction of electronic accreditation of voters in Nigeria enabled the limitation of multiple voting and easy manipulation of voters records. Based on Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote observation reports, the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) has recorded major success in the deployment and usage of the Smart Card Readers (SCRs). In the 2019 Presidential election, the card readers were deployed in 99% of polling units, and they functioned throughout the day in 93% of polling units. For the Edo 2020 governorship election, smart card readers were deployed in 100% of polling units and they functioned throughout the day in 85% of polling units. Similarly, card readers were deployed in 100% of polling units and in 88% of polling units, they functioned throughout the voting process during the Ondo 2020 governorship election.
The improvement in the voter’s accreditation process did not totally solve the challenge of transparency in the electoral process as the results collation process. This is because the results collation process remains the weakest link in Nigeria’s elections. The collation process has increasingly become susceptible to manipulation, fraudulent review of results at the collation centre’s, wrong computation of results, violence and attacks on election officials. To address this challenge, INEC tested the deployment of technology to transmit results from the polling units level alongside the manual collation of results. This provided an additional oversight over the results collation process for INEC. However, regardless of the success of the electronic transmission of results in Edo and Ondo 2020 governorship election, if it is not legalised through the Electoral Act, the process will remain ad-hoc and a mere policy introduction by INEC. This means that candidates/parties cannot sufficiently present data from electronically transmitted results in court to challenge the outcome of the election. It also means that the result collation system will remain susceptible to electoral fraud and manipulation.
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