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INEC downplays electronic voting, craves citizens’ trust

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Receives 9,000 requests for new polling units
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, downplayed electronic voting in the country, saying what is most needed for optimum performance is absolute trust by the citizenry.

INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Nick Dazang, made the comment during INEC/IFES Voter Education Manual review/ Validation and Training of Trainers workshop for staff held in Akure, Ondo State.

He argued that electronic voting is not absolutely safe due to the porosity of the Internet which can be easily hacked to manipulate electoral processes and results.

“The main issue in our election is that of trust. Once we continue to do things transparently and stakeholders, including politicians, media, political parties, observers and civil societies trust INEC, you don’t even need to use sophisticated technology for election.

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“So, we need to move toward the direction where there is trust in the system, election management body and the processes,” Dazang said.

According to him, INEC operates basically on trust systems as all aspects of electioneering are conducted openly, save the voting cubicle where secret balloting takes place.

Dazang, who said that INEC had started some aspects of electronic voting in the country, noted that the constitution of the country doesn’t allow the commission to do it like developed countries.

“We have started with electronic registration and use of smart card reader, but we will get to the point of electronic balloting. If we want to vote electronically, the law has to be changed. For now, the law says you must vote where you registered. So the law has to be amended.”

He disclosed that the commission had received no fewer than 9,000 requests from Nigerians to create more polling units across the country, hence the workshop in Akure.

According to Dazang, the workshop was organised for staff of INEC in the southern states and voter education staff at the headquarters in Abuja.

Dazang, who explained that the commission had started to consult stakeholders across the country, said it would not use the requests as basis for creation of the polling units.

He hinted of the intention of the electoral body to expand voters access to polling units due to the longevity of the existing polling units which were created in 1996.

“For now we have received 9,000 requests for polling unit across the country but the commission is not going to use those requests as a basic for creation and also we have started consulting with stakeholders.

The Ondo State INEC Residence Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Rufus Akeju, said that the workshop was to correct atrocities committed by voters during the election and would help the INEC staff to educate electorate.
Akeju, who said that voter education was the backbone of free, fair and honest election, explained that INEC intended to bring polling units closer to people and congestion at the polling units would be reduced drastically.

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