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Monday, June 22, 2009

NCS, INEC to host e-Voting forum

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have concluded plans to hold a three-day stakeholders forum on Electronic Voting (e-Voting) system in the country.

Disclosing this at a press briefing in Alausa-Lagos secretariat of the society, NCS president, Prof. Charles Uwadia, said that the first-ever national forum on e-Voting is a follow-up to the retreat organised last year in collaboration with INEC in Asaba, Delta State.

He described e-Voting as a response to the quest to make voting convenient and results to accurately reflect the wishes of the electorates.

Uwadia noted that the electoral system in the country is basically manual with semi-automated processes, while registration is electronic, he said, that voting and ballot counting are done manually.

“This has not produced the desired results leading to several cases of election malpractices, such as mass thumb printing of ballot papers, stuffing of ballot boxes and snatching same, impersonation and multiple registration as well as manipulation of election results,” he said.

As said by him, quite a number of election results have been disputed with some of the cases still pending in election tribunals.

The fundamental challenge facing electoral process, he said, is that of assuring that votes are recorded as cast and tabulated accurately.

“This could be achieved in Nigeria by the adoption of electronic voting system and the application of electronic voting has today become a necessary part of global campaign for increased electoral integrity,” Uwadia observed.

Stressing that elections, in most nations of the world with enviable democratic platform have, over the years been conducted electronically, Nigeria cannot and should not be an exception.

He pointed out that based on the aforementioned NCS in conjunction with INEC has chosen to host the stakeholders’ forum on e-Voting system, with the theme:
Stabilizing the Nigerian Democracy Through e-Voting System, which has been scheduled to hold in Kaduna between June 30 and July 2, this year.

He revealed that members of the National Assembly, political parties, the judiciary, Nigerian Bar Association and the media have been lined up to address the three-day occasion among others.

He highlighted some of the core issues to be examined to include electronic voting in Nigeria, issues and challenges; electronic voting models around the world; electronic voting in Nigeria: prospects and solutions; the role of the civil society in actualizing e-voting in Nigeria and the role of the media in actualising e-voting in Nigeria.

Additionally, Prof. Uwadia listed the strategies for enlightenment/education of electorate on e-voting system; legal framework for e-voting in Nigeria; building efficient voter’s registration framework for harmonized national database; issues of communication/power infrastructure and security implications: safeguarding the voters, equipment and the process.

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