INEC has announced it's plan to electronically transmit election results from the polling unit level starting with the 2017 Anambra State Governorship Poll.
Here is the new procedure:
- Results from polling units will be entered into the e-collation application on the smart card reader;
- Results are transmitted to a central server;
- Results are auto-collated and can be viewed at the RAs (wards) and ECA8s can be scanned at that level; and Result audit and confirmation takes place at collation centres at LGAs, state and national level.
This is significant because it could potentially alter the electoral landscape for good or bad. While the intention is no doubt a good one (blocking election rigging), it fails to account for the human element.
Free and fair elections are largely dependent on the sincerity of those conducting the elections. In Nigeria, we have witnessed the enthusiasm with which many INEC officials actively help to rig elections for the highest bidder. This new system of electronic transmission of results could make it easier and cheaper to alter valid election results. The antidote to this is to stream every polling unit result real-time and make this accessible to members of the public on dedicated websites as they are collated.
This is not the first time INEC is proposing electronic transmission. In 2007 during Maurice Iwu's tenure, INEC proposed an electronic transmission system requiring installation of VSATs at each LGA and transmission of results via a closed network.
Intelligence reports at the time indicated that the Obasanjo administration intended to use this system to release pre-programmed election results with the aim of riging the elections in favour of their candidates. This development led to our group setting up a GSM-based QuickCount System for the 2007 Lagos State, Osun State and Ekiti elections.