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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in its strongest defence of e-transmission of election results, says it has developed adequate structures and processes that can ensure the successful transmission of election results electronically.
The commission disclosed this in its “Position Paper No.1/2021 Electronic Transmission of Election” released on Saturday, in Abuja.
The commission stated that the available national infrastructures, including mobile network coverage, were adequate to provide for electronic transmission of election results.
In the paper, INEC expressed its belief that electronic transmission of results would improve the quality of election results management, while its engagement with stakeholders had shown that the Nigerian public supported electronic transmission of election results.
“The technology and national infrastructure to support this are adequate.
“Consequently, if the choice was up to INEC, the commission prefers to transmit election results electronically once the necessary legal framework is provided,” it said.
The objectives of the position paper, according to INEC, was to explain the desirability of electronic transmission of results as an electoral reform issue in Nigeria today, adding that it was also to clarify the position of INEC on some of the central issues around e-transmission of results.
“To build a consensus on electronic transmission of results as an electoral reform issue based on a shared understanding of its desirability towards the 2023 general election,” is also another reason, INEC explained.
The commission disclosed that for over a decade it had piloted the electronic transmission of election results via Short Messaging System (SMS) for off-cycle and bye-elections in 2011.
“The second system piloted for the 2011 General Election was called the e-Track. The idea was to use handheld scanners to scan all polling unit results and send them as PDF files to a backend for processing and publishing.
“Unfortunately, the commission’s staff deployed for that purpose did not scan many of the results, while some of the scanned results were not legible,” it said.
However, it noted that for the 2011 presidential results collation, INEC set up a system of transmitting state-level results electronically to the national collation centre in Abuja, ahead of the arrival of the physical result, through a secured e-mail address that only the chairman of the Commission could access.
The paper stated that the innovation enabled the results to be ready for crosschecking against the physical result and to be displayed for public viewing during collation, which had brought a lot of transparency into the final collation of Presidential election results.
It added that since 2011, it had remained the procedure for collating Presidential election results at the National Collation Centre in Abuja and had since evolved into what is today called “The Collation Support and Result Verification System (CSRVS),” even though the manually collated results were still being used to declare results.
“Finally, for several off-season and by-elections conducted since the 2019 general election, the commission had begun to electronically publish images of polling unit results through its INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal,” it added.
Specifically, this system had been deployed in several major off-season/end-of-tenure and by-elections, including the Edo and Ondo state governorship elections, six senatorial and three Federal Constituency by-elections, 15 State constituencies and one councillorship constituency in the FCT, INEC said.
“From the results obtained from these elections, the commission is convinced that electronic results management will add great value to the transparency and credibility of elections in Nigeria“, it added.
While IReV was not the electronic transmission of results, it noted, the portal had helped INEC to test three things that were central to electronic transmission of results, including the efficacy of electronic results management, should the legal encumbrance be lifted.
The position paper added that INEC had used the IReV portal to test the security of its systems and the capacity of the national infrastructure to support the future electronic transmission of results.
“Since August 2020, the commission has conducted elections and transmitted the results from about 20 States and the FCT, covering 27 constituencies spread across 84 LGAs, 925 Wards and 14,296 Polling units involving 9,884,910.
“The conclusion that the commission draws from these diverse pilots conducted since 2011 is that the country is ready for electronic transmission of results.
“The national ICT infrastructure is also adequate for the purpose of the electronic transmission of results.
“This is underscored by all the discussions held with the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), over the ten-year period of these pilots, but especially between 2018 and 2019.
“It is important to share the outcome of those discussions to underscore the commission’s conviction about the readiness of the country for electronic transmission of election results”, the commission added.
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