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E-voting implementation in nigerian

CHAPTER FIVE

5.1 Recommendation on E-voting Implementation in Nigerian

Basically, the recommendation on e-voting implementation in Nigeria was incorporated as guidance on how to design, implement, operate and supervise e-voting systems to ensure that they are reliable and secure as traditional paper-based methods. It emphasises the need for new voting methods to meet the democratic principles of universal equal suffrage, as well as for free and secret ballots, and for electronic systems to be robust, transparent and accessible. The recommendation also addresses related issues such as registration and authentication of voters, notification of elections, nomination of candidates and provision of information to voters. The specific recommendations for alternative measures concerning the chosen system of voting would enhance the secrecy, accuracy and to underpin the future development of electronic voting in Nigeria and levels of confidence surrounding its use at elections in Nigeria. This standards/recommendation consists of the legal, procedural, operational, core technical requirements and audit, if followed in an e-voting system, would facilitate compliance with the principles of democratic elections and referendums:

5.1.1 Recommendation Based on Legal Standards

i. Universal Suffrage:

  1. The voter interface of an e-voting system shall be understandable and easily usable
  2. Possible registration requirements for e-voting shall not pose an impediment to the voter participation in e-voting,
  3. E-voting systems shall be designed, as far as it is practicable, to maximise the opportunities that such systems can provide for persons with disabilities,
  4. Unless channels of remote e-voting are universally accessible, they shall be only an additional and optional means of voting.

ii. Equal Suffrage:

  1. A voter shall be prevented from inserting more than one ballot into the electronic ballot box. A voter shall be authorized to vote only if it has been established that his/her ballot has not yet been inserted into the ballot box.
  2. The e-voting system shall prevent any voter from casting a vote by more than one voting channel.
  3. Every vote deposited in an electronic ballot shall be counted, and each vote cast in the election or referendum shall be counted only once.
  4. Where electronic and non-electronic voting channels are used in the same election or referendum, there shall be a secure and reliable method to aggregate all votes and to calculate the correct result.

iii. Free Suffrage:

  1. The organization of e-voting shall secure the free formation and expression of the voter's opinion and, where required, the personal exercise of the right to vote.
  2. Voters shall be able to alter their choice at any point in the e-voting process before casting their vote, or to break off the procedure, without their previous choices being recorded or made available to any other person.
  3. The e-voting system shall not permit any manipulative influence to be exercised over the voter during the voting.
  4. The e-voting system shall provide the voter with means of participating in an election or referendum without the voter exercising a preference for any of the voting options, for example, by casting a blank vote.
  5. The e-voting system shall indicate clearly to the voter when the vote has been cast successfully and when the whole voting procedure has been completed.
  6. The e-voting system shall prevent the changing of a vote once that vote has been cast: vote once read multiple times.

iv. Secret suffrage:

  1. E-voting shall be organized in such a way as to exclude at any stage of the voting procedure and in particular, at voter authentication, anything that would endanger the secrecy of the vote.
  2. E-voting system shall guarantee that votes in the electronic ballot box and votes being counted are and will remain, anonymous and that is not possible to reconstruct a link between the vote and the voter.
  3. The e-voting system shall be so designed that the expected number of votes in any electronic ballot will not allow the result to be linked to individual voters.
  4. Measures shall be taken to ensure that the information needed during electronic processing cannot be used to breach the secrecy of the vote.

5.1.2 Recommendation Based on Procedural Safeguard

a. Transparency:

  1. Electoral officers shall take steps to ensure that voters understand and have confidence in the e-voting system in use.
  2. Information on the functioning of an e-voting system shall be made publicly available.
  3. The voting system software shall be freely inspect-able by the public. Software will be available in both source code and binary format, this includes: configuration files, application, operating system, peripheral drives, font files, and all firmware including video subsystems without any non-disclosure agreements.
  4. Voters shall be provided with the opportunity to practise any new method of e-voting before and separately from, the moment of casting an electronic vote.
  5. Any observers, to the extent permitted by law, shall be able to be present to observe and comment on the e-elections, including the establishing of the results.

b. Verifiability and Accountability:

  1. The components of the e-voting system shall be disclosed, at least to the competent electoral authorities, a required for verification and certification purposes.
  2. Before any e-voting system is introduced, and at appropriate intervals thereafter, and in particular after any changes are made to the system, an independent body, appointed by the electoral authorities, shall verify that the e-voting system is working correctly and that all the necessary security measures have been taken.
  3. There shall be the possibility for a recount. Other features of the e-voting system that may influence the correctness of the results shall be verifiable.
  4. The e-voting system shall not prevent the partial or complete re-run of an election or a referendum.

c. Reliability and Security:

  1. All possible steps shall be taken to avoid the possibility of fraud or unauthorized intervention affecting the system during the whole voting process.
  2. The e-voting system shall contain measures to preserve the availability of its services during the e-voting process. It shall resist, in particular, malfunction, breakdowns or denial of service attacks.
  3. Before any e-election or e-referendum takes place, the competent electoral authority shall satisfy itself that the e-voting system is genuine and operates correctly.
  4. Only persons appointed by the electoral authority shall have access to the central infrastructure, the servers and the election data. There shall be clear rules established for such appointments. Critical technical activities shall be carried out by teams of at least three people. The composition of the teams shall be regularly changed. As far as possible, such activities shall be carried out outside election periods.
  5. While an electronic ballot box is open, any authorized intervention affecting the system shall be carried out by teams of at least three people, be the subject of a report; be monitored by representatives of the competent electoral authority and any election observers.
  6. The e-voting systems maintain the availability and integrity of the votes. It shall also maintain the confidentiality of the votes and keep them sealed until the counting process. If stored or communicated outside controlled environments, the votes shall be encrypted.
  7. Votes and voter information shall remain sealed as long as the data is held in a manner where they can be associated.

5.1.3 Recommendation Based on Operational Standards

a. Notification:

  1. Domestic legal provisions governing an e-election or e-referendum shall provide for clear timetables concerning all stages of the election or referendum, both before and after the election or referendum.
  2. The period in which an electronic vote can be cast shall not begin before the notification of an election or a referendum. Particularly with regard to remote e-voting, the period shall be defined and made known to the public well in advance of the start of voting.
  3. The voters shall be informed, well in advance of the start of voting, in clear and simple language, of the way in which the e-voting will be organized and any steps a voter may have to take in order to participate and vote.

b. Voters:

  1. There shall be a voters' register which is regularly updated. The voter shall be able to check, as a minimum, the information which is held about him/her on the register, and request corrections.
  2. There shall be possibility of creating an electronic register and introducing a mechanism allowing online application for voter registration.
  3. In cases where there is an overlap between the periods for voter registration and the voting period, provision for appropriate voter authentication shall be made.

c. Candidates:

  1. The possibility of introducing online nomination may be considered.
  2. A list of candidates that is generated and made electronically shall be publicly available by other means.

d. Voting:

  1. It is particularly important, where remote e-voting take place while polling stations are open, that the system shall be so designed that it prevents any voter from voting more than once.
  2. Remote e-voting start and or end at an earlier time than the opening of any polling station. Remote e-voting shall not continue after the end of the voting period at polling stations.
  3. For every e-voting channel, support and guidance arrangements on voting procedures shall be set up for, and be available to, the voter.
  4. There shall be equality in the manner of presentation of all voting options on the device used for casting an electronic vote.
  5. The electronic ballot by which an electronic vote is cast shall be free from any information about voting options, other than that strictly required for casting the vote. The e-voting system shall avoid the display of other messages that may influence the voter's choice.
  6. If is it decided that information about voting options will be accessible from the e-voting site, this information shall be presented with equality.
  7. Before casting a vote using a remote e-voting system, voters' attention shall be explicitly drawn to the fact that e-election or e-referendum in which they are submitting their decision by electronic means is a real election or referendum.
  8. In a supervised environment, the information on the vote shall disappear from the visual, audio or tactile display used by the voter to cast the vote as soon as it has been cast.

e. Results:

  1. The e-voting system shall not allow the disclosure of the number of votes cast for any voting option until after the closure of the electronic ballot box. This information shall not be disclosed to the public until after the end of the voting period.
  2. The e-voting system shall prevent processing information on votes cast within deliberately chosen sub-units that could reveal individual voters' choices.
  3. Any decoding required for the counting of the votes shall be carried out as soon as practicable after the closure of the voting period.
  4. When counting the votes, representatives of the competent electoral authority shall be able to participate in, and any observers able to observer, the count.
  5. A record of the counting process of the electronic votes shall be kept, including information about the start and end of and the persons involved in the count.
  6. In the event of any irregularity affecting the integrity of votes, the affected votes shall be recorded as such.

f. Audit:

  1. The e-voting system shall be auditable.
  2. The conclusions drawn from the audit process shall be applied in future elections and referendums.

5.1.4 Recommendation Based on Technical Requirements

a. Accessibility:

  1. Measures shall be taken to ensure that the relevant software and services can be used by all voters and, if necessary, provide access to alternative ways of voting.
  2. Users shall be supplied, whenever required and possible, with additional facilities, such as special interfaces or other equivalent resources. User facilities shall comply as much as possible with the guidelines set out in the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
  3. Consideration shall be given, when developing new products, to their compatibility with existing ones, including those using technologies designed to help people with disabilities.
  4. The presentation of the voting options shall be optimized for the voter.

b. System Operation:

  1. The competent electoral authorities shall publish an official list of the software used in an e-election or e-referendum. They might exclude from the list data protection software for security reasons. At the very least, it shall indicate the software used the versions, its date of installation and a brief description. A procedure shall be established for regularly installing updated versions and corrections of the relevant protection software. It shall be possible to check the state of protection of the voting equipment at any time.
  2. Those responsible for operating the equipment shall draw up a contingency procedure. Any backup system shall conform to the same standards and requirements as the original system.
  3. Sufficient backup arrangements shall be in place and be permanently available to ensure that voting proceeds smoothly.
  4. Those responsible for the equipment shall use special procedures to ensure that during the polling period the voting equipment and its use satisfy requirements. The backup services shall be regularly supplied with monitoring protocols.
  5. Before each election or referendum, the equipment shall be checked and approved in accordance with the protocol drawn up by the competent electoral authorities. The equipment shall be checked to ensure that it complies with technical specifications. The findings shall be submitted to the competent electoral authorities.
  6. All technical operations shall be subject to a formal control procedure. Any substantial changes to key equipment shall be notified.
  7. Key e-election or e-referendum equipment shall be located in a secure area and that area shall, throughout the election or referendum period, be guarded against interference of any sort and from any person. During the election or referendum period a physical disaster recovery plan shall be in place.
  8. Where incidents that could threaten the integrity of the system occur, those responsible for operating the equipment shall immediately inform the competent electoral authorities, who will take the necessary steps to mitigate the effects of the incident.

c. Security

  1. Technical and organizational measures shall be taken to ensure that no data will be permanently lost in the event of a breakdown or a fault affecting the e-voting system.
  2. The e-voting system shall maintain the privacy of individuals. Confidentiality of voters' registers stored in or communicated by the e-voting system shall be maintained.
  3. The e-voting system shall perform regular checks to ensure that its components operate in accordance with its technical specifications and that its services are available.
  4. The e-voting system shall restrict access to its services, depending on the user identity or the user role, to those services explicitly assigned to this user. User authentication shall be effective before any action can be carried out.
  5. The e-voting system shall protect authentication data so that unauthorized entities cannot misuse, intercept, modify or otherwise gain knowledge of all or some of this data. In uncontrolled environments, authentication based on cryptographic mechanisms is advisable.
  6. Identification of voters and candidates in a way that they can unmistakably be distinguished from other persons (unique identification) shall be ensured.
  7. E-voting systems shall generate reliable and sufficiently detailed observation data so that election observation can be carried out.
  8. Electoral authorities have overall responsibility for compliance with these security requirements, which shall be assessed by independent bodies.

d. IT Security Terms:

The following IT security terms are to be used in this section. The definitions have mainly been taken from relevant ISO Standards:

Access Control:  The prevention of unauthorised use of a resource (ISO 7498-2:1989)

Authentication:The provision of assurance of the claimed identity of an entity

(ISO/IEC 10181-2:1996)

Availability: The property of being accessible and usable upon demand (TR 13335-1:1996)

Confidentiality:The property that information is not made available or disclosed to unauthorized individuals, entities, or processes (ISO 7498-2:1989) (TR 13335-1:1996)

Protection Profile:An implementation-independent set of security requirements for a category of products that meet specific consumer needs (ISO 15408)

User or Actor:An entity that is authorized to interact with the e-voting system as a whole or with its components. This includes, inter alia, voters, candidates, auditors, etc.

5.1.5 Recommendation Based on Audit

  1. The audit system shall be designed and implemented as part of the e-voting system to confirm the authenticity of the result. Audit facilities shall be present on different levels of the system: logical, technical and application.
  2. End-to-end auditing of an e-voting system shall include recording, providing monitoring facilities and providing verification facilities.

a. Recording:

  1. The audit system shall be open and comprehensive, and actively report on potential issues and threats.
  2. The audit system shall record times, events and actions including:
    1. all voting-related information, including the number of eligible voters, the number of votes cast, the number of invalid votes, the counts and recounts, etc;
    2. any attack on the operation of the e-voting system and its communications infrastructure.
    3. System failures, malfunctions and other threats to the system.

b. Monitoring:

  1. The audit system shall provide the ability to oversee the election or referendum and to verify that the results and procedures are in accordance with the applicable legal provisions.
  2. Disclosure of the audit information to unauthorized persons shall be prevented.
  3. The audit system shall maintain voter anonymity at all times.

c. Verification:

  1. The audit system shall provide the ability to cross-check and verify the correct operation of the e-voting system and the accuracy of the result, to detect voter fraud and to prove that all counted votes are authentic and that all votes have been counted.
  2. The audit system shall provide the ability to verify that an e-election or e-referendum has complied with the applicable legal provisions, the aim being to verify that the results are an accurate representation of the authentic votes.
    1. The audit system shall be protected against any forms of attack which may corrupt, alter or lose records in the audit system.
    2. Electoral authorities shall take adequate steps to ensure that the confidentiality of any information obtained by any person while carrying out auditing functions is guaranteed.

Consider the diagram of Audit data set approach for clarification purposes:

5.1.6 The Drafted Presidential Electoral Result Summary:

Constituencies

Electoral Toll

Method of Voting

Votes Received

Abstained

Participation Rate

Invalid vote

Valid votes

Total

Abuja

23, 234

Internet

4,795

440

20.63%

0.00%

730%

21,852

24,768

DRE

3,096

1,504

28.79%

0.00%

650%

45,964

10,539

Mobile

10,643

4,214

3.75%

0.00%

987%

26,987

etc

etc

etc

etc

etc

etc

etc

etc

Needless-to-say, that the potential benefits and reasons for introducing or considering the implementation of e-voting in one or more stages of a political election or referendum differs from country to country; depending on the specific domestic context in each country.  However, applying the principles of democratic elections to e-voting entails promoting and protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

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