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Card readers: A hole INEC must plug

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By Clifford Ndujihe

AS 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) meet today to critically examine the complaints generated at last weekend’s trial run on the card readers in 12 selected states, there are a number of questions and issues the INEC has to address.

The polity is still divided on whether or not the card readers should be used for the March 28 and April 11 general polls. The 12 national commissioners of INEC, All Progressives Congress (APC) and a coalition of 60 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) among others want the card readers to be used. However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some stakeholders including PDP governors are raising objections.

Since the electoral umpire is insisting on using the card readers, which it claims would stop multiple voting, it is important to address the flaws observed during the trials, which if unattended could hurt the polls.

  • What measures are in place to ensure that the card readers are not pre-programmed to reject PVCs or pre-loaded without using the right PVCs?
  • What effort is the commission making to ensure that all eligible voters with permanent voters’ cards (PVCs), whose names are on the voters register, are enfranchised on election day?
  • Since accreditation of a voter using the device takes between one to three minutes, it means that it will take between 8 to 25 hours to accredit 500 voters. In essence, accreditation alone may last for a whole day. Is INEC ready for this in terms of logistics, etc? According to INEC, accreditation of voters will start at 9am and end at 12 noon, meaning that between 36 and 180 voters would be accredited within the stipulated time at best. What about the remaining 320 or more voters?
  • If accreditation takes about 8 to 25 hours, when will actual voting, sorting and counting of ballots take place especially in the case of the March 28 presidential and National Assembly polls – a three-in-one exercise?
  • Is it possible to have more than one card reader per voting point?

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