Kaduna made history as the first State in Nigeria to use electronic voting for an election. Here is how it happened.
Namibia is the first nation in Africa to use electronic voting. Kaduna is the first sub-national entity in the world to adopt electronic voting.
Only about 10 countries globally use electronic voting including the United States, Belgium, Brazil, Philippines, Bolivia and Mexico.
Kaduna now belongs in that elite company.
Ahead of the just concluded councillorship election in Kaduna State, the Chairman of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (SIECOM), Dr. Saratu Binta Dikko-Audu called her commissioners for an emergency meeting.
Top of the agenda was forwarding a proposal on voting electronically to Governor El-Rufai. They were cautiously optimistic that the governor--a tech savvy and progressive minded politician--would buy their proposal.
But before their proposal was sent to the governor, Dikko-Audu and her SIECOM team embarked on a study visit to Brazil for a first hand feel of how electronic voting works in the South American country.
After the study trip, SIECOM made a formal presentation to the Kaduna State Executive Council one humid afternoon.
After the presentation, electronic voting became a no-brainer for El-Rufai and the executive council.
The proposal was bought, hook, line and sinker. And it took months of painstaking work behind the secenes.
Afterwards, El-Rufai made a commitment to fund the procurement of the electronic voting machines because it sounded like a good idea to him from the moment he heard the Kaduna electoral commission out.
“We invested in electronic voting machines to make sure that the elections are free and fair and we will accept the results of the election. We believe in democracy and the choice of the people is the choice of God. We believe in free and fair elections”, El-Rufai told the press hours before the council polls.
El-Rufai's APC would go on to sweep the council polls in Kaduna.
Because electronic voting is neither in the federal constitution nor in that of any State, the appropriate legislation was enacted to give it a legal backing in Kaduna.
The Kaduna State Independent Election Commission Law No.2 of 2018, which governs the conduct of local government elections, now makes provision for electronic voting.
Before the council elections, El-Rufai approved the purchase of about 6,000 units of the electronic voting machine.
Voters were then enlightened on how the machines worked--complete with demonstrations in mosques, churches, market squares and football fields.
You can only vote on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) if you have a Permanent Voters Card (PVC).
1. The EVM weighs no more than 10kg. It is light and easy to transport.
2. It has a battery life of 10-16 hours.
3. It works through an automated process that cuts out blank and void votes.
4. The automated process ensures quick counting of results.
5. Each unit of the EVM has transparent windows, a touch screen on which political party logos are inscribed, green and red buttons for voters to affix a thumb in order to affirm their choice of party or to cancel.
6. The EVM also contains an in-built thermal printer which hands each voter a slip to affirm that they just voted.
According to Premium Times, the electronic voting process in Kaduna works as follows:
1. Voter presents PVC to Election Officer.
2. Voter credentials verified from register.
3. Election Officer activates Electronic Voting Machine.
4. Voter selects logo of candidate’s political party by pressing touch screen.
5. Voter verifies or cancels selected party logo.
6. Voter presses OK button to confirm choice.
7. EVM prints ballot receipt for voter. This receipt contains SIECOM logo and other details, including logo and name of party chosen, date and time of vote cast and the serial number of the EVM.
According to El-Rufai, Nigeria will benefit immensely from adopting e-voting.
"Our local government elections will be the first ever in Nigeria conducted by electronic voting,” El-Rufai said.
“By introducing electronic voting machines, this government is affirming its democratic credentials, a firm belief that people’s vote must count.
"I think it can work at the national level; it has been successful, and we believe it can be duplicated across the country.
"We think that this is a very solid foundation for the development of our democracy because a credible, fair and transparent election will determine the quality of leaders going forward", the governor added.
Nationally, Nigeria uses a smart card reader for voting. However, collating and counting of results is still done manually, leaving plenty of room for manipulation of votes.
The nation's Electoral Act and the constitution, doesn't recognise electronic voting.