Expanding Voter Access to Polling Units in Nigeria: Matters Arising
Data and technology will play a prominent role in Nigeria’s 2023 elections. The electoral commission, INEC is relying on electoral technology to enhance the transparency and credibility of the election. Tools such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Election Result Viewing portal will be deployed for the elections. This automation of critical aspects of the election process is backed by the 2022 Electoral Act and INEC’s Regulations and Guidelines for elections.
It is expected that these electoral technologies will enhance efficiency of election day process and inspire public confidence in election outcomes. To deliver on these expectations, the deployment of electoral technologies for the general elections must conform with the principles of transparency, accountability, suitability, cost-effectiveness, security, accuracy, and inclusion. Standard practice requires institutions deploying electoral technologies to test and verify equipment, software and tools before deployment for elections. Pre-tests and evaluations of electoral technologies creates opportunities for improving public understanding of new electoral technologies and it avails electoral commissions ample time to fix identified software, hardware and operational challenges including possible scenarios for effective response. In other climes, election management bodies are required by law to conduct testing and verification of electoral technologies before deployment for nationwide elections. Nigeria’s electoral legal framework places no statutory obligation on INEC to subject its electoral technologies to testing and verification.