The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced last week that it would deploy Bimodal Voter Accreditation Device (BVAD) for the next gubernatorial elections in the state. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation Device will be used to capture fingerprints and faces of voters.
Per the electoral body, the BVAD system will utilize two kinds of voter verification; fingerprint and face biometrics for verification of voters’ identity.
“We will continue to implement technological systems in electoral procedures. We are certain that that is the right decision. Nigeria is ready to be part of the nations that have successfully utilized technology for the progress and advancement of their nations.’
There have been mixed reactions since INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee chairman — Festus Okoye — made the announcement. While some commentators have commended the Commission for coming up with the initiative — seeing it as a move in the right path, a decent number of people are still sceptical whether this initiative will improve the electoral system in the state.
How Does This Function?
INEC had expressed that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation Device would be utilized for different purposes in a bid to improve the electoral system of the country. According to the electoral commission, the multipurpose technology device — during voters’ registration — will function as the commission’s Voter Enrolment Device (IVED). The device will also be used as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) — which will be used for voter accreditation at the voting centre. This device — according to the announcement — will replace the Smart Card Readers.
Lastly, the device will be used as the commission’s Result Viewing Device (IReV Device). This means that INEC can also use this technology to upload election results at the end of the voting process.
It took years of research and brainstorming to come up with such a device. Per INEC, the electoral commission initially made efforts to introduce facial biometric authentication to the Z-pad tablet. The plan was to complement the fingerprint verification procedures done using Card Readers.
Highlight Of INEC’s Electronic Voting Journey
INEC began exploring the possibilities of introducing electronic voting as far back as 2004. Since 2004, INEC has initiated technological innovations including direct data capture devices and optical map registration forms. Subsequently, the commission improved the utilization of these devices to include the Smart Card Reader (SCR) and Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The BVAD System: Problems It Will Solve
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is certain that this new voting technology will cover the gaps created by smart card readers, including the problems of identity theft. The commission announced that it was always on the lookout for innovative ideas on how to further improve the believability of voter accreditation.
Why This Development Is Needed
While speaking to the media in the capital city on Tuesday, INEC boss — Prof. Mahmood Yakubu — explained the need for the utilization of a Bimodal Verification System, especially in cases where Smart Card Readers cannot verify voters’ fingerprints. Smart Card Readers allowed users to vote even if they failed to get verified using their fingerprints. This can be done by asking the voter to fill out an incident form. INEC expressed that such activities had led to concerns in the past about how the voting process was handled. That way, identity theft would thrive since an individual can use another person’s PVC at the voting centre.
To solve this problem and enhance voting credibility, the electoral commission has stated that subsequent elections will be based on electronic accreditation alone. Individuals who fail to get verified through fingerprint verification will be verified facially. However, if the system does not verify an individual both facially and with a fingerprint, such a person will not be allowed to vote.
Even though there are a few naysayers who are sceptical about this development, INEC has received commendations from civil society organizations and election monitoring organizations. For these people, there is hope that the introduction of this device will usher in a new era in the Nigerian voting system.