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Is Election Technology the Game Changer in the 2023 Elections?

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  • Create Date February 15, 2023
  • Last Updated February 17, 2023

Is Election Technology the Game Changer in the 2023 Elections?

Nigeria’s new electoral act will be tested on a national scale during the 2023 general elections. The election is holding one year after the law came into effect following presidential assent on February 25th, 2022. The Electoral Act 2022 legalises the use of technology for accreditation and transmission of election results. While this is not the first time, the commission will deploy technology for Nigeria’s election, this is the first time it is fully backed by the Electoral Act. No doubt the pre-election period has witnessed more attempts by some sections of the political class to discredit the deployment of technology in the election. However, the deployment of technology like the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the accreditation of voters for instance is now a mandatory requirement for elections and beyond just a policy by INEC. In addition, the deployment of the INEC Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV) will provide polling units level results uploaded from each polling unit using the BVAS.

Notwithstanding the supposed resistance to technology, these innovations in the Electoral Act provide positive anticipation on the part of many voters that the process will be more transparent to guarantee the integrity of the elections. In this reporting period, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC concluded the nationwide test of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). The exercise entailed testing of hardware and software components of the BVAS to ascertain their functionality ahead of deployment. The report of the observation of the BVAS test is attached as Appendix 1 to this report. The observation revealed the need for INEC to ensure that each BVAS deployed functions optimally and is used as required across all polling units in Nigeria where elections will be conducted. The days leading to the election remain critical for INEC to address all challenges observed from the BVAS testing and the subsequent mock accreditation exercise. In addition, INEC needs to provide updates on the recently conducted hardware testing and configuration of the devices and invest in providing adequate information/voter education on the BVAS to bridge the knowledge gap within the populace.

Beyond attempts to discredit electoral technology, the pre-election phase continues to witness attacks on INEC facilities, threats of insecurity within volatile states, and unending economic instabilities that may overlap with the election.

Yiaga Africa Watching the Vote Project made further findings through its fourth Pre-election observation report. The report highlights that ongoing campaigns by political parties are still trailed by different forms of violence ranging from physical and verbal violence to hate speech and restrictions on opposition campaigns in some states. In addition, are the ongoing security threats by armed non-state actors and specific communities where elections may be difficult to conduct either because those locations are difficult to access due to high insecurity or because the residents are displaced by the armed non-state actor(s).

This report contains key findings of the fourth observation period (between January 05, 2023, and January 19, 2023) and it is based on reports received from 756 of 774 LGAs. Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote will have its trained Long term observers (LTO) deployed in the 774 LGAs until February 24, 2023.

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#WatchingTheVote is a citizen led election observation initiative aimed at enhancing the integrity of elections in Nigeria using technological tools like sms and evidence-based research methodology tools for election observation.

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