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Senate Approves E-Voting, Passes Amendment To Electoral Act


The Nigerian Senate, Thursday, passed amendments to the Electoral Act 2010, approving the use of electronic voting in future elections.

It also approved that election results should be electronically transmitted to collation centers.

The
passage of bill followed the consideration of the report of the Senate
Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on a
Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and for other
related matters (SB 231 and SB 234).

Major highlights of the new
bill include provision for the use of electronic voting by INEC during
future elections, use of Card Reader and also gives INEC power to modify
the voting process if there is a challenge.

The Senate also
approved a provision to enable INEC transmit the result of elections
electronically in an encrypted and secured manner to prevent hacking.

To
address the incident that happened in Kogi State, during last
gubernatorial election, the amended Electoral Act provides that if a
candidate dies before results of elections are declared, the results
will not only remain valid but belongs to the political party that lost
its candidate.

It also added that in such a scenario, the INEC
should suspend the elections for 21 days during which period the
affected political party will conduct fresh primaries to choose a new
candidate.

The Bill also gives political parties power to adopt
direct or indirect primaries in choosing their flag bearers, while
qualification of disqualification of candidates for elections will be
solely based on the Constitution.

In his comments after the
adoption of the report by the Red Chamber, Senate President, Bukola
Saraki, thanked his colleagues for a job well done and expressed
optimism that the Bill would further improve the nation’s electoral
system and also contribute to good governance.

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Saraki said: “Distinguished colleagues, let me thank all of you for this job well done.

“I
want to particularly thank the members of the Committee on INEC and
particularly the former chairman of the Committee, Abubakar Kyari,
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and all the members of the committee who have
worked very hard to ensure the passage of this very important bill which
addresses our electoral process and goes on to strengthen our
democracy.

“We have touched on new areas which I believe will
improve the credibility of our elections and by so doing, definitely
improve our democracy and good governance.

“Most importantly, I
think, are some of the new sections we have added, in the area of
technology, the smart card reader, and particularly the area of
collation which has been an area of great concern.

“Collation of
results after the polling units and some of the additions we put on the
electronic way by which the compilation of results can be done, I think
will go a long way to reduce some of the irregularities we have seen
before.

“This is a great work you have been able to put together
today and I want to commend everybody. I am also happy that we have
passed the amendments very early. My concern has always been that if we
don’t do it now, it will get more difficult as we get blowed to the 2019
elections.

“We hope that with this Bill that we have passed,
very soon, we will sit together with the House of Representatives to be
able to get the copy to the President for assent.

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“I think when
signed into law, it will enable INEC to have something to work early
enough. I think what we have done today will really put our electoral
law among the best that we have and it will go a long way in improving
our electoral process,” he said.

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