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INEC Sticks to Card Readers for Elections

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*To repeat card demonstration in some parts of Ebonyi on Saturday

By Olumide Bajulaiye in Abuja

Despite the opposition in some quarters particularly the Peoples Democratic Party to the use of card readers for the March 28 and April 11 elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission has stuck to its guns.

The commission said on Tuesday that it is satisfied that the use of card readers in the 2015 general elections would add tremendous transparency and credibility to the accreditation process on Election Day.

INEC reassured the public that it would do everything necessary to ensure that the processes of the elections are seamless, free, fair, credible and peaceful.

According to a statement by Mr. Kayode Idowu, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, the commission said it met on Monday, March 9, 2015, to consider field reports from the public demonstration of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) conducted in 12 states on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

The states were Rivers and Delta (South-South), Kano and Kebbi (North-west), Anambra and Ebonyi (South-east), Ekiti and Lagos (South-west), Bauchi and Taraba (North-east) as well as Niger and Nasarawa (North-central).

The commission, however, said it took a serious view of the high rate of the SCRs’ failure to authenticate voters’ fingerprints in some areas, particularly in Ebonyi State, and had decided to thoroughly investigate the cause; as well as repeat the public demonstration in that state.

This demonstration will be conducted in the particular registration area involved in the last exercise, namely Izzi Unuhu (Abakaliki Local Government Area); as well as in Ibii/Oziza Registration Area (Afikpo North LGA). The repeat demonstration will be on Saturday, March 14th 2015.

The commission observed that its decision to deploy SCRs for the 2015 general elections have four main objectives, namely:

(i)      To verify Permanent Voter cards (PVCs) presented by voters at polling units and ensure that they are genuine, INEC-issued (not cloned) cards. From the reports on Saturday’s exercise, this objective was achieved 100 per cent.

(ii)     To biometrically authenticate the person who presents a PVC at the polling unit and ensure that he/she is the legitimate holder of the card. In this regard, there were a few issues in some states during the public demonstration. Overall, 59% of voters who turned out for the demonstration had their fingerprints successfully authenticated. But the Commission, in agreement with registered political parties, had provided in the approved Guidelines for the conduct of the 2015 elections that where biometric authentication of a legitimate holder of a genuine PVC becomes challenging, there could be physical authentication of the person and completion of an Incident Form, to allow the person to vote.

(iii)   The SCRs provide disaggregated data of accredited voters in male/female and elderly/youth categories – a disaggregation that is vital for research and planning purposes, but which INEC until now had been unable to achieve. The demonstration on Saturday fully served this objective.

(iv)   The SCR sends the data of all accredited voters to INEC’s central server, equipping the Commission to be able to audit figures subsequently filed by polling officials at the PU and, thereby, be able to determine if fraudulent alterations were made. The public demonstration also succeeded wholly in this regard.

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