Are we overcomplicating the application of electronic voting machines(EVM) in African elections? The Case of Nigeria
As technology permeates our intricate society, it influences in various ways — part of which is the application of technology in the electoral process. Before tackling the technological implementation in Nigeria, we need to acknowledge the foundational issues such as violence, over-voting, vote-buying, vote manipulation etc. There is a need to understand and proffer solutions to these concerns.
The role of PVC in the election process/registration: Voter authentication is a key aspect of ensuring free and fair casting. However, it is not news that there have been loopholes around the illegal acquisition of voter cards.
A recent initiative by the Federal Government is the introduction of the National Identification Number (NIN) — which I consider a step in the right direction. The NIN is similar to PVC but offers a unique number that identifies an individual. As defined by National Identity Management Commission (NIMC),
“The National Identification Number (NIN) is a set of numbers assigned to an individual upon successful enrolment. Enrolment consists of the recording of an individual's demographic data and capture of the ten (10) fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial pictures and digital signature, which are all used to cross-check existing data in theNational Identity Database to confirm that there is no previous entry of the same data” (National Identity Management Commission, n.d.)
In the broader sense, The NIN can be likened to the Social Security Number (SSN) model in the United States. The NIN is directly linked to licenses, bank accounts, taxing records, and voter’s cards of an individual. With the latest identification scheme by the government, how do we ensure multi-level voter verification during an election to prevent fraud such as multiple voting? How feasible is it to integrate NIN during elections? Or perhaps, utilize both PVC and NIN for voters verification.
Technology Implementation / Looking forward to the General election in 2023: There are different taxonomy of voting systems, but the proposed election system for this article is the ‘Public Network Direct Recording Electronic Voting System (PNDRE). The PNDRE is an election system that utilizes electronic ballots and transmits votes from the polling point to other locations over a public network. In this instance, the vote may be transmitted individually as they are cast or as collective batches periodically” as described by (Reginald & Uzochukwu; Kumar & Begum). This voting system allays fear of paper votes theft, leading to loss of data unaccounted for during elections. Copies of vote data are automatically available in the central system with this system.
The dynamics of the PNDRE system is fascinating. The security of this system is also important. Can you imagine using a public GSM network with the PNDRE system to facilitate its operation?