Hope for the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in future elections in Nigeria became brighter as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday screened applications from over 40 IT firms bidding to kick start the process.
Chairman of INEC, Mr Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this during the practical demonstration of the machines by interested companies at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
He said the deployment of EVMs was part of efforts to deepen electoral integrity in Nigeria.
According to him, INEC had been working on the deployment of technology in voting during elections to replace the current manual system which he said was tedious and expensive.
Yakubu said: “Over the years, the commission has been automating the critical pillars of the process. The biometric register of voters has been updated continuously. At the moment, the INEC register of voters is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria. In addition, the combination of biometric voters’ cards commonly known as Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and the Smart Card Reader (SCR) have revolutionised the accreditation of voters during elections.
“More recently, the introduction of a number of portals has facilitated the seamless nomination of candidates for elective offices by political parties as well as the accreditation of observers and the media. Most significantly, the commission now uploads polling unit level results in real-time on Election Day to a portal for public view. These are significant innovations that have deepened the transparency and credibility of elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.
“Today, the commission is taking yet another decisive step towards the full automation of the electoral process. For some time now, the commission has been working on the deployment of technology in voting during elections to replace the current manual system which is tedious and requires enormous logistics to deliver huge quantities of printed materials and a large number of ad hoc staff to administer the process.
“To this end, the Commission developed the specifications of the functions required of the machine. After extensive discussion and review, the commission took the decision to invite original manufacturers of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) around the world for a virtual or practical demonstration of the machines.
“Over 40 companies that indicated interest will demonstrate to the commission how their IT solutions meet our specifications.”
The INEC boss clarified that the demonstration was to enable the electoral body evaluate the available technology and finetune 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.
“The commission is aware that Nigerians want us to deepen the use of technology in elections. Let me reassure Nigerians that the commission is committed to expediting the process leading to the deployment of EVMs in elections in earnest,” Yakubu said.