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Electoral Act 2021: Public Query On “Loop-hole” Provision Of Amendment on e-Voting

With the debate on adoption of amendments on some sections of the Electoral Act, following the Nigerian Senate consideration of amendment in the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2021, some sections of the public have raised issues on clauses that may present what they call “a loophole for breach”.

The concerns are being raised over perceived conditional execution of the amended portions of the Bill.

Following a proposal by Senator Sabi Abdullahi representing Niger North seeking an amendment to Sections 52(2) and 52(3) of the report which proposed electronic voting and transmission of results, these sections are to be reviewed.

Section 52(2) states that “The Commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”

Section 52(3) also states that “The Commission may transmit results of elections by electronic means where and when practicable.”

However, the amendment proposal reads: “The Commission may consider the electronic transmission of results provided that the national coverage is adjudged secured by the NCC and approved by the NASS.”

The amendment was seconded by the Senator representing Borno South, Senator Ali Ndume.

When put to vote, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan ruled that the majority of the lawmakers voted in favour of the amendment.

Some public opinions fear that the conditional clause “may adopt”, “may transmit” and “may consider” could put the Commission in a position where regional elections could be politicised and tilted in execution of electronic voting and transmission of results.

According to a social media commentator, for the process to work, the technology adoption will have to be non-discriminatory, spread across the entire regions and states without being conditional.

Lawmakers had on Thursday commenced clause by clause consideration of the report of its Committee on INEC on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021.

The Senate has also invited the nation’s telecommunications regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to determine if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be allowed to proceed with electronic voting for subsequent general elections.

Based on NCC’s assessment and National Assembly approval of electronic transmission of votes, the nation will latch onto technology to conduct credible elections both in the State and National levels.

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