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2023 general elections may ride on e-voting, e-transmission of results if..

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With the nasty experiences of ballot box snatching, violence and other electoral breaches from the recently conducted guber elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States, strong indications have emerged suggesting that the Senate may fast-track work on a bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 with special targets of making ballot boxes irrelevant going forward.

Business Hilights gathered that a bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.

The bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”

According to factual provisions as contained in the document, “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.

“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”

On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”

Brief analysis of the emerging law, stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.

The spirit of the new bill provides that “At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.

“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.

The new law will among other things, prevent INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court as it notes that “In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”

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