E-voting is a kind of voting that involves using an electronic system to cast and count votes usually with the aid of an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
It is of two main types: the one physically supervised by representatives of the electoral umpire and the remote e-voting whereby votes are cast via the internet from any location. The former requires the EVM whilst the latter could be done with one’s personal computer.
The merits of e-voting cannot be overemphasized. It enables votes to be cast with ease. It increases the speed of voting. It is cost effective; in other words, it tremendously reduces the cost of conducting an election by engaging only a few electoral officials rather than in the case of a manual voting system that requires much manpower.
It can provide an improved accessibility for the electorate that are physically challenged, thereby enabling them to participate actively and massively at the polls. It’s transparent, because it can easily be observed by anyone present at the polling unit. It helps to reduce human error to a great extent. It makes the election results to be announced faster than expected, thus building trust.
Among all, e-voting is auditable with the assistance of Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). The EVM prints a paper receipt each time a vote is cast electronically. This makes it easy to perform recounts and audits, because one can compare the electronic count with the paper count. Owing to the overall gains and effects of electronic voting, it increases turnout and engagement among the electorate.
On Saturday, 12th May 2018, Kaduna State under the watch of Governor Nasir El-rufai made history by conducting its Local Government (LG) polls with the aid of e-voting system as planned by the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM).
It was, however, reported that some of the EVMs malfunctioned in some polling units while some were taken away by hoodlums to unknown destinations. The machine error was blamed on various factors such as power supply, technical hitches and ignorance on the part of the operators.
Gov. El-rufai testified that human error was recorded during the exercise, though claimed the EVMs performed perfectly as anticipated. In his statewide address while being interviewed by newsmen after the polls, he said “Only human error was recorded. All the electronic voting machines functioned perfectly. We shall investigate the cause of the human error.”
The outcome of the LG polls in their totality signified that Nigeria still has a long way to go as regards electronic voting. It was gathered that some of the EVMs malfunctioned even as the governor claimed that they all performed excellently. The diverse reactions that trailed the functionality of the EVMs used at the said polls were good reasons to note that the Nigerian system wasn’t yet ripe for the practice.
We have equally learnt that some of the EVMs were carted away by thugs in the process. This particular loophole implied that adequate security wasn’t on ground to safeguard the polling units and the sensitive materials, or perhaps the security personnel compromised their obligations.
The above revelation raises much room for great worry in respect of the quest for deployment of the e-voting pattern in Nigeria’s electoral system, hence the need to critically look into it.
It was further alleged that the returning officers in charge of the various LGAs vanished into thin air after concluding the elections. It’s imperative to acknowledge that the so-called returning officers have a thousand and one questions to answer if the required investigations must be carried out by the concerned authority as well as towards averting such embarrassment in the future.
As I appreciate Gov. El-rufai for giving us the prototype of how the e-voting would look like if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) eventually adopts it for the Nigeria’s political sphere, it’s my pleasure to notify the commission that if well prepared, the country can really get it right.
Since we have observed lapses bordering on ignorance in the use of tech devices, thuggery and insecurity, there’s absolutely no need to suggest to the INEC on what needs to be done towards ensuring that the e-voting system is aptly implemented for future elections.
Taking into cognizance the innumerable benefits attached to the e-voting system, Nigeria as a country ought to headlong consider making use of its methodology during the 2023 general elections towards ushering in a better and greater political space in the country.
It’s worth noting that the Bill for Electronic Voting cum Result Transmission has eventually seen the light of the day at the National Assembly (NASS) having ‘torn’ the federal lawmakers apart. The truth is that, anyone who truly yearns for fairness and credibility during elections mustn’t hesitate in supporting this lofty cause.
As Nigerians anxiously await the e-voting pattern, INEC and other relevant stakeholders must hold the bull by the horn with a view to ensuring the needful is done without further procrastination.
Noting that the world is already engulfed in technologies and every facet of the global community gradually becoming digitally-inclined, the electoral umpire needn’t shy away from acknowledging it’s time the Nigerian State inculcated e-voting into its electoral mechanism.
Hence, the INEC needs to consequently set up a special unit to be manned by qualified and uncompromising tech experts that would see to the apt implementation cum sustenance of the awaited measure.
There is equally need for holistic sensitization among the concerned electorate on how they could participate in the e-voting pattern coupled with what is expected of them as long as the exercise lasts during each electioneering era.
Above all, it’s noteworthy that the proposed unit can’t perform as required if the commission fails to continually extend the hand of fellowship to the cognoscenti. Think about it!