Will INEC’s Voter’s Card Reader Perform On D-Day?

Share this story.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega
INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega

In a test of its readiness for the General Elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Saturday March 7, ran a mock deployment of the permanent voter card reading machine across 12 states of the federation. In the main, the voter card reader appears to have avoided the fiasco some said would result from using the device for the coming elections. However, there were worrisome glitches.
Commendably, the card reader, according to reports, were able to weed out fake PVCs and in many cases it was able to validate and accredit genuine voters in record time. Nevertheless, there were also reports of potential voters whose genuine cards were stuck midway into the accreditation, as some card readers failed to complete the process. It has also emerged that the card reader could be constrained by lotion and oily residue on the fingers of voters. Then, there is the worrisome situation of the card reader running out of battery life in the course of use, which occurred at some locations, according to reports.
If indeed the card reader would weed out fake voter cards on polling day, INEC and indeed Nigeria may have found a veritable means to tackling one of the ways the electoral process is subverted by politicians adept at rigging elections in this country.
Beyond the capacity of the card reader to foil rigging, however, we urge INEC, rather than a premature recourse to congratulating itself on this mock test and going to sleep, to find a fool-proof means of plugging the holes its test-run of the card readers has exposed. For instance, INEC cannot afford to deploy card readers that would run out of battery life before accreditation is over on polling day, as this provide amble opportunity for those with fake, cloned or stolen PVCs to use them. What is INEC’s Plan B in the face of this highly possible scenario?
Also, we find problematic INEC’s explanation that any voter whose finger cannot be read by the card reader would have to fill an incident report form to reflect the development and then vote. This, it appears to us, is recipe for rigging. In the usually charged voting process, a recourse to form-filling before voting has the potential to degenerate into bedlam. Has INEC also consider the high illiteracy level among the voting public before this form-filling option?
Because it is the first time card readers would be used in any election in Nigeria, only the most ardent optimists in the country entertain no fear of something going irreparably wrong on polling days in the coming elections. To be sure, it is a glaring banana peel on the path of free, fair and credible poll, which INEC must watch out for and prepare contingency plans against, if the nation is to avoid a huge post-election hiccups.

Share this story.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.