Nigeria2015: Senate to lift embargo on electronic voting – Ekweremadu

Election

Section 52 of the Electoral Act bars electronic voting.

The National Assembly is working towards lifting the embargo on electronic voting.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, gave the indication Tuesday while declaring open a three-day international conference on “Promoting Credible Election in Nigeria: Opportunities and Challenges in Information and Communications Technology”, which is being organised by the UNDP Democratic Governance for Development Project in Abuja.

He said that life was in endless evolution and that democracy was not an exception in mankind’s efforts towards finding new, faster, and better ways of getting things done. He said the National Assembly was very willing and ready to support Nigeria’s electoral process all the way.

This was even as he called for caution in the deployment of ICT in the election process, noting that “the infusion of ICT into any sensitive aspect of our election management system in particular must be very strategic, tested, gradual, and go with adequate mobilization, education, and consensus building.”

Mr. Ekweremadu, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, said that the National Assembly was committed to matching this desire for increased ICT role in our election management and electoral process with the requisite appropriation and law reforms.

He said: “In the present amendment to the Electoral Act, we seek to delete Section 52, which bars the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from using electronic voting. This is to allow the Commission to use its discretion to apply electronic voting at any time it deems it appropriate

“ICT has highly and positively impacted all areas of the electoral process such as voter registration; voter education; electioneering campaign; data acquisition, integrity, and transmission; actual voting; vote counting; election monitoring, election security the world over; and Nigeria cannot be an exception.”

He said that despite the ingrained fears, mutual suspicion among the political elites, and various technical challenges, Nigeria was positively disposed to ensuring that ICT played greater role in every aspect of its electoral process to make our elections smoother, more transparent, efficient, participatory, freer, fairer, and indeed more credible.

Senator Ekweremadu said that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which he sponsored along with other members of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, had already passed the First Reading in Senate and would be one of the major focus of legislative attention once the 2014 National Budget was passed.

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