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New electoral law amendment bill sanctions e-voting, others

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Harmonising various amendment bills sponsored in the past, the National Assembly after a marathon public hearing yesterday, in Abuja, adopted a proposed legislation impressing it on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to embrace electronic voting or any other method of balloting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.

The proposal retained the collation of results at ward and other levels.

Also, the use of smart card reader in the accreditation of voters has been made mandatory, as its failure warrants outright cancellation of polls.

It added: “The presiding officer shall use a smart card reader or any other technological device that may be prescribed by the commission for the accreditation of voters to verify, confirm or authenticate particulars in a manner prescribed by the commission.”

A new subsection reads: “Where a smart card reader deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any unit and a fresh card reader is not deployed, the election in that unit shall be cancelled, and another election shall be scheduled within 24 hours.”

The version, sponsored by Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, had provided that data of accredited voters should be transmitted to the central database upon conclusion of accreditation.

It stated: “At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.

“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine.”

The proposal prevents INEC from shutting down the central database until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.

On specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill sought amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act (2010), by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”

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