…urges NASS to accelerate the passage of Electoral Amendment Bill
INEC

By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja

Ahead of the Isoko South State Assembly Constituency bye-election in Delta State and the Anambra Governorship election on November 6, 2021, an election observer, Yiaga Africa, Friday, hailed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for deploying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, as a way to reduce human interference in the electoral process.

The commendation was made in a statement signed by the Director of Programme, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, where it indicated that INEC had in its quarterly Consultative meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSO’S) shared its plan to deploy the BVAS for accreditation of voters and to enable near real-time viewing of results.

The statement also added that as presented at the meeting, the all-in-one technology is a multifunctional integrated device that serves multiple purposes for different activities in the value chain of elections in Nigeria.

This includes: serving as the INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) during voter registration, serving as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for voter accreditation on Election Day which replaces the Smart Card Reader, and serving as the INEC Results Viewing Device (IReV Device) to be used for election results upload on Election Day.

The statement reads in part, “This recent innovation is worthy of commendation especially because it is designed to ensure full voter authentication on Election Day. This is particularly important because as revealed in previous Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote election observation reports, the Smart Card Reader while achieving an impressive level of functionality had a major challenge with full biometric authentication of voters.

“The BVAS as presented will address this issue because it is designed as a bimodal biometric authentication device integrating both fingerprint and facial technology. Accordingly, on Election Day, the device will be used to authenticate voters either through fingerprint or facial recognition during accreditation. Where fingerprint authentication fails, facial authentication will be done. Where both fingerprint and facial authentication fails, the voter will not be allowed to vote.”

According to the statement, Yiaga Africa made it known that during its quarterly meeting with Civil Society Organisations in Abuja, the Commission assured all present that the “new machine is robust and sufficient to further guarantee the credibility of the voter accreditation and result management process and by extension promote transparent elections.

“This will significantly reduce or possibly eliminate incidents of multiple voting, PVC buying and selling and PVC theft. We appreciate the commission’s effort and it is our considered opinion that the introduction of new technology will go a long way in guaranteeing the sanctity of the ballot. Thus, we are optimistic that the new BVAS will further boost citizens’ confidence in the process and encourage citizens’ participation.

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“Yiaga Africa looks forward to the BVAS pilot exercise in the Isoko South State Assembly Constituency bye-election in Delta State. We urge the Commission to document critical lessons from the deployment and make an effort to bridge any gap identified. We urge the Commission to consistently train its ad-hoc staff to build their capacity on how to use the BVAS to avert any form of capacity gap in the deployment of the system.

“We also call on the Commission to develop a strategic plan to periodically upgrade its system to enhance its security and a comprehensive voter engagement strategy to educate voters on the new technology.”

However, the statement concluded by urging the National Assembly when it resumes on September 14, 2021, to accelerate the passage of the electoral amendment bill that legalises the deployment of technology for accreditation, voting and transmission of election results.

“This will further support the work of INEC, provide ample time for the familiarization of the improved legislation and build citizens’ confidence in the electoral process”, the statement added.

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