INEC’s Card Reader Passes Litmus Test

The Smart Card Readers (SCRs)were used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the weekend for biometric  verifications of potential voters and a mock poll. It was without any major hitch. Stakeholders and observers say it has come to stay as an antidote to rigging. RAYMOND MORDI, LEKE SALAUDEEN and MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE take a look at the results from the states and the way forward as enumerated by experts.  

After the field testing of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the weekend, the verdict was that it was largely successful. Going by reports from the 12 states where it was tested, the machines performed excellently. According to INEC, there are two steps to be followed in the usage of the SCRs. One is authentication; to ascertain that the card was issued by INEC. The implication is that if anybody brings a fake Permanent Voter Card (PVC), the machine will not authenticate or recognise it as INEC’s card. So, the issue of fake cards or clowned PVCs will not arise.

Impressive turnout in Lagos

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos, Mr. Akin Orebiyi said: “The next step, after the authentication, is the verification stage, where the bearer of the card will be asked to put his thumb on a particular point on the SCR, to verify whether he or she is the rightful owner of the card. The implication of this is that no person can use another person’s PVC. Impliedly, nobody can be accredited and possibly vote in more than one polling centre.”

The reports were the same from the 12 states chosen across the six geo-political zones by the electoral umpire to test run biometric confirmation of potential voters.

The states are; Lagos, Ekiti, Rivers, Delta, Ebonyi, Anambra, Taraba, Kano, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger and Bauchi.

Orebiyi said the mock poll was successful. According to him, there were hitches with few of the machines because the PVCs’ owners’ fingers were wet. The Lagos REC, in a telephone interview, told The Nation  that the aim of the test-run was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the SCRs to the public; to demonstrate that PVCs can only be used at the designated polling units. He said that many intending voters, who were not registered in Onigbongbo Ward where the mock poll took place, were rejected by the machines.

Orebiyi said the exercise has proved the efficacy of the new device.

His words: “There was nowhere the battery failed during the exercise. In few instances, where the cards could not be identified by the machines, we used the back-up register to identify the card owner. Those in this category were about five per cent.  May be their hands were wet but with the back-up register, we were able to identify them.

“The test-run has given us the opportunity to demonstrate the process for accreditation on election days. We will continue to educate the voters as we have planned to hold town hall meetings in all the 774 local government areas in the state, Orebiyi said.

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