Hope for the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in future elections brightened yesterday as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) screened applications from over 40 IT firms bidding to begin the process.
Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this during the firms’ demonstration of the machines at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
He said the deployment of the EVMs was part of efforts to deepen the country’s electoral process, adding that INEC has been working on the deployment of technology in voting at elections to replace the manual system, which he said, was tedious and expensive.
“Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric voter’s register has been continuously updated. At the moment, INEC’s voters’ register is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria.
“In addition, the combination of biometric voters’ cards or Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and Smart Card Reader (SCR) have revolutionised accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties, as well as accreditation of observers and media practitioners,” he stated.
Mahmood explained that the commission has now been uploading polling unit level results in real-time on elections day to a portal for public view, adding, “These are significant innovations that have deepened transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process.
“Today, INEC is taking yet another decisive step towards full automation of the electoral process. For some time now, it has been working on the deployment of technology in voting during elections to replace the manual system, which is tedious and requires enormous logistics to deliver large quantities of printed materials and much ad-hoc staff to administer the process.”
He added that to achieve a seamless process, the commission developed the specifications of the machines’ functions, maintaining that after extensive discussions and reviews, the commission took the decision to invite manufacturers of EVMs around the world for a virtual and practical demonstration of the machines.
“Over 40 companies that indicated interest will demonstrate how their IT solutions will meet our specifications,” he said.
The INEC boss also explained that the demonstration was to enable the commission to evaluate the available technology and perfect its specifications before proceeding to the next stage.
He disclosed that details of the next steps, which would involve the participation of stakeholders, would be given at the end of the demonstrations.