EDITORIAL: A case for electronic voting system in 2023

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In 2018, the 8th National Assembly passed an Electoral Act Amendment Bill that was transmitted to the President for assent. The amended act bill seeks to address issues peculiar to elections in Nigeria. Issues such as cost of politics, internal democracy, and the use of technological innovations were extensively tackled in the bill forwarded to the President.

Considering the heated politics that enveloped the country then, especially the rivalry between the Executive and the leadership of the National Assembly led by the then President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, the handlers of the president believed that there was more to the amended act than meet the eye. The amended act was therefore not endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

For a democracy of two decades, public officials are expected to have at the bottom of their mind that developing the polity to strengthen government institutions should be priotised rather than allow ulterior motive cloud their sense of judgement.

Had President Buhari signed the amended act, the 2019 elections would have been the first in the series of elections conducted with the use of electronics and technologies backed by the Electoral Act.

The amended act had provided for the use of technological innovations such as the smart card readers that utilise biometrics to authenticate voters. The use of smart card readers would have garnered more credibility for the election process a d reduced series of court cases that arouse as a result of the fallout of the elections.

We understand that the 9th National Assembly is working round the clock to ensure that the bill is passed to the President for assent in the first quarter of 2021. This is cheering news for us as a medium. IMPACT NEWS therefore calls for speed work, passage and assent on the amended act.

We believe that incorporating the smart card reader in the Electoral Act is expected to compliment other provisions and mandate of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It would make available a national register of voters in electronic format and make it easier for the collation and disaggregation of data on voting patterns of different categories of electorates.

The amended Act, if passed by the President will mandate INEC to publish the voter’s register on its official website or any website established by the Commission for seven days and a futuristic provision giving explicit powers to the Electoral Management Body to conduct elections by e-voting or any method that it may determine from time to time.

We call on the National Assembly and the Presidency to set aside politics and let national interest prevail over personal and partisan interest for the sake of our democracy and the collective development of Nigeria.

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