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September 4, 2021

Electronic voting: For the second time, Kaduna sets pace

Revitalizing leadership decay in Nigeria

•To use electronic machine in today’s LG election

For the second time since 2018, Kaduna State will use electronic voting machines for its local government elections which hold today, Saturday, 4th September 2021.

The Kaduna State Government’s innovative use of technology to promote election integrity made the state the first in Nigeria to adopt electronic voting, and the second polity in Africa to achieve the feat after Namibia.

In 2018, Kaduna State made history by being the first in Nigeria to conduct an electronic voting election and second in Africa after Namibia to achieve this feat.

Dr. Saratu Binta Dikko-Audu, chairman of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIECOM), said that the Commission was encouraged by Governor Nasir El-Rufai to deploy technology for elections. She stated that KADSIECOM therefore acquired electronic voting machines which successfully used in 2018.

“We pioneered the electronic voting system during our last Local Government Councils election, that was in 2018.

“Why that happened was because the Governor of this State, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, being very progressive and courageous, decided when we came on board to task us with the responsibility of deploying technology to our Local Government Councils election.

“Initially, we thought all he meant was using the smart card reader because it had been such a success in the 2015 elections. But he said no, he wanted us to go the whole hog and have citizens actually vote on a machine and so we set out to develop the voting machine which we eventually presented to the public in 2018.”

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The chairman disclosed that the state electoral body has put lessons learnt in 2018 into its preparations for the 2021 LG elections. Briefing journalists, Dr. Dikko-Audu explained that the electronic voting machines used in 2018 have been upgraded to prevent multiple voting while preserving speed of voting and the integrity of the voting process.

“Each voter’s card can only be used once, so the machine will not allow multiple voting. The voter is required to touch the logo of the party he wants to vote for, and that choice is registered, and he can see a paper trail generated through a transparent window in the machine showing the party the voter chose.” This paper trail can be tallied to compare it to the electronic result if any party agent at the polling unit so requests.

Dr. Dikko-Audu confirmed that the results will be sent directly from the electronic voting machines to the KADSIECOM servers, while party agents and security agencies at the polling units will have card copies of the summary of results printed from the machine. At the conclusion of voting, the result from each electronic voting machine is printed in ten copies so that the party agents at the polling unit will have a copy each. “The security agents at the polling unit will also have copies and the result is transmitted to our server here in Kaduna. It is also stored in the USB port of the machine.

“You have four levels where the result is stored: the paper trail, the summary of results, the memory of the machine itself and the transmission to the server at headquarters. It will be hard for anyone to say they want to rig an election and change all those four values. Remember that I said we print ten copies of the summary of results, so ten people already have the results out there. How are you going to get all ten and change them? It will be very difficult.”

She noted that 95% of residents of Kaduna State who voted in the 2018 elections said that they found it easy to use the electronic voting machines during the local government elections of 12 May 2018, and she is confident that the ease of usage has been retained in the upgrade.  

In the beginning…

On 12th My 2018, Kaduna State made history when it introduced electronic voting in Nigeria, using it to elect chairmen and councillors for its 23 local government councils. The Kaduna State Executive Council had earlier approved the adoption of electronic voting, and budgeted funds for the acquisition of the necessary equipment.

On 9 July 2017, Dr. Saratu Dikko-Audu led other commissioners of the KADSIECOM to present the electronic voting machines to be used for the 2018 elections to the members of the Kaduna State Executive Council in the Council Chambers of Government House, Kaduna. KADSIECOM demonstrated the use of the machine and assured the state government that they were set to take elections to another level of technology-enabled fairness.  Electronic voting is used in Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Curacao, Mexico, Namibia, Haiti, Philippines, the United States of America and Venezuela.

Vanguard News Nigeria