E-voting? Not so fast


By Lawrence Azubuike

perceptions of distortions of the electoral course of. The election administration our bodies have grappled with this problem, simply as totally different legal guidelines have instituted frameworks to make sure free, truthful and credible elections.

We have experimented with totally different types of voting such because the open poll system, modified open poll system, open-secret poll system and even a dichotomy between accreditation and voting. Yet, there has continued to be a craving for a panacea to the myriad issues plaguing the electoral course of. Some suppose that digital voting (e-voting) is the magic wand that may heal every little thing flawed with the method.

Whilst that notion has been round for a while, it’s instructive that the prevailing electoral legislation is doubtful about it, because the legislation particularly prohibits its use. However, advocates of e-voting seem to have swayed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Recent stories quote INEC as stating that the 2019 basic elections could be the “last mainly manual election in Nigeria.”

It is known that the fee can be taking steps to trigger legislative amendments to allow e-voting. Presumably, such prompt adjustments will embrace the abrogation of the statutory prohibition towards e-voting. Nevertheless, it’s argued right here that Nigeria and INEC should proceed on the e-voting path with warning and, not so quick.

In the up to date world, know-how is ever current. Notwithstanding such ubiquity, e-voting entails the deliberate deployment of technological gadgets within the means of voting, a phenomenon that isn’t but common. Even although there could also be slight variations, e-voting means a system the place a voter casts their poll utilizing an digital system reasonably than a paper poll. It might take one among three important varieties.

First, an optical scanner could also be used to learn a paper poll solid by voters. A second sort is direct recording digital voting whereby paper back-up to substantiate that somebody voted or how they voted. While these two strategies of e-voting are utilized in a managed surroundings because the machines are often within the polling station, the third sort is extra radical and characterised by the truth that the voter workouts their franchise in an uncontrolled surroundings.

This is voting via the web. An individual can vote from the consolation of their residence or every other place, for that matter. INEC has not disclosed the actual type of e-voting it’s contemplating. It can be attainable that it’d develop its peculiar variant of the method.  There as soon as was speak of adopting an indigenously developed voting machine. No matter how e-voting is tweaked, it tends to fall into these broad varieties. A machine replaces the poll paper.

No doubt, in a really perfect world, e-voting would add worth to the electoral process. Machines can facilitate and expedite voting, counting and collation. As a consequence, it ought to have the potential of making higher and simpler entry to the poll; and consequently democratic participation. Besides, it might additional be argued, if know-how pervades our every day lives, why ought to voting be exempted from this contemporary lifestyle? After all, nearly everybody carries sensible telephones and conducts banking and different transactions on such gadgets.

READ ALSO: Election Violence: CSOs harp on e-voting

Add to those, the present pandemic and the resultant have to restrict mass gatherings. But the present socio-political and financial context in Nigeria is much from ideally suited and doesn’t conduce to a useful introduction of e-voting for now. Every knowledgeable on the difficulty agrees that credibility is the muse of each profitable electoral course of. If the individuals don’t belief the system, it can’t actually succeed. Unfortunately, such credibility is sorely missing in Nigeria. Cynicism has characterised the perspective of the Nigerian individuals to elections within the nation.

Most imagine that they’re rigged. Even the statutory and administrative frameworks appear to underscore this level. They are usually verbose, all in a bid to anticipate each attainable eventuality and to go away the electoral physique with very restricted, if any, discretions. The guidelines require that the majority electoral actions be carried out in a clear method, within the presence of stakeholders. Without any enchancment in public confidence within the system, a major change, reminiscent of is perhaps accomplished by the introduction of e-voting, might trigger extra issues, as a substitute of offering options. Transparency can be misplaced.

Then there’s the problem of lack of requisite infrastructure. Obviously, a transition to e-voting will entail appreciable funding in know-how, given present situations. It could also be a patriotic gesture to discover home-grown know-how, however the actuality is that the extent of native know-how remains to be years behind what could also be wanted to efficiently implement e-voting. There would additionally must be an improve in manpower. If web voting is to be allowed, what would occur to those that wouldn’t have entry to web? Admittedly, they might have the choice of going to the polls. But that can increase the difficulty of inequality. Some voters would have a extra handy entry than the others. Besides, the extent of basic and technological literacy might mar a right away introduction of e-voting.

Encountering know-how

Many locations within the nation are with out satisfactory phone networks. E-voting might not work properly in such locations. Also, machines might break down. We might encounter know-how in our on a regular basis lives, however it’s one factor to have a glitch with the banking community, however one other to have that within the mammoth electoral train. An individual would all the time know when there was an error with their account and may contact the establishment, however such glitch, or error, within the voting course of might go uncorrected and naturally has graver implications. The expertise with card readers and the last word resort to incident varieties illustrate the truth of this problem.

One of crucial capabilities of any electoral system is to conduct a free and truthful election, the result of which displays the desire of the individuals. While the present paper poll course of is just not good, any change ought to, at a minimal, enhance, and never worsen, the method. If e-voting in an uncontrolled surroundings, reminiscent of use of web voting, is launched, it can multiply the issues of the present system.

Secrecy of the poll will vanish. The nation has not too long ago confronted the anomaly of vote-buying, a apply during which some voters acquire cash from unscrupulous politicians with a purpose to vote for them. Some really hand over their everlasting voter playing cards. A scenario, during which individuals can vote from the privateness of their properties, will result in “vote buying on steroids.”

This is along with the power of politicians, and others, to exert different types of interference , reminiscent of duress and undue affect , with the integrity of the electoral course of. Under present apply, the place voting and counting of votes are decentralized to the polling items, the affect of any electoral malfeasance may be restricted to particular areas and will or might not have an effect on the general consequence.

In an election affecting a wider constituency, reminiscent of presidential or gubernatorial elections, perpetrators of such mischief have a harder job, as a result of they must orchestrate their foul-play in lots of locations. But the usage of e-voting might make it easier for riggers. To obtain their nefarious goal, they simply must compromise the central system. Machines may also be hacked. Related to this drawback is the diminution in oversight of the electoral course of. By its very nature, e-voting is technical.

Azubuike, a political analyst, wrote from Lagos


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