By Danlami Nmodu
The Independent National Electoral Commission says it has commenced moves toward the automation of voting process. This was disclosed by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC during the demonstration of electronic voting machines (EVMs) at the conference room, INEC Headquarters, Abuja, on Monday 28th September 2020.
Yakubu assured Nigerians that the commission was committed toward expediting moves towards Electronic Voting Machines. He said, “The Commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the Commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of EVMs in elections in earnest.”
The INEC chairman disclosed that more than 40 companies that have so far indicated interest, would during the virtual session, demonstrate their IT solutions on the occasion.
Professor Yakubu said, “Today, the Commission is taking yet another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process.
“For some time now, the Commission has been working on the deployment of technology in voting during elections to replace the current manual system which is tedious and requires enormous logistics to deliver huge quantities of printed materials and a large number of ad hoc staff to administer the process.
“To this end, the Commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the Commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.
According to Yakubu, “Over 40 companies that indicated interest will demonstrate to the Commission how their IT solutions meet our specifications. I wish to emphasise that this is only a demonstration that will enable the Commission to evaluate the available technology and where necessary finetune our specifications before proceeding to the next stage which will involve the participation of stakeholders. Details of the next steps will be given at the end of the demonstrations.”
The INEC chairman described the event as “another giant step in the Commission’s continuous effort to deepen electoral integrity in Nigeria through the deployment of technology.
He noted further that “Over the years, the Commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest data base of citizens in Nigeria. In addition, the combination of biometric voters’ cards commonly known as the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and the Smart Card Reader (SCR) have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
He recalled that, “More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media. Most significantly, the Commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.”