Recently, the strong desire for e-voting has been described to be an issue that cannot be avoided in the future of electioneering in most countries. Despite all its good features, like the other voting systems it has been seen to also be liable to fraud and whole more problems. Some of its unwanted features include not allowing second counts of votes after election in case of a protest like the others. Another issue arising is that of wrong and incorrect software which can greatly affect the results of election. All these are further brought together by the fact that voting systems deals with huge amount of data collected from various sources among several population leading to hard comprehension and monitoring of raw datas. My paper attempts to persuade the reader that e-voting threatens Nigeria's democracy.
My project starts with an introduction explaining e-voting. It then gives a summary of present situation of e-voting in Nigeria. Also, it includes my research methodology. Furthermore it explains the advantages and disadvantages of e-voting. Finally, I wrote about my own personal opinion on this matter and also gave my recommendation on how election in Nigeria can be improved.
E-voting in Nigeria is a broad topic and it covers a whole lot of aspects. In every nation or environment we have heard of the word election or e-voting and we keep debating in our minds how well can we define e-voting and election, what does it mean to use e-voting for election?, why do people really use this new method?, how sure are we that e-voting improves a fair election and how does e-voting threaten Nigeria's democracy?, all these are questions we try to answer to satisfy our human curiosity, it is very much expected.
The whole idea of my project is to explain what the meaning of E-voting is. After that, I will give a little case study about how E-voting is been used presently in Nigeria. Also, my project then identifies the advantage and disadvantages of using it in Nigeria. Furthermore, I will give my own personal view on the issue. Finally, my project would also state some suggestion on how to make democracy in Nigeria better.
E-voting (electronic-voting) means using a computer-based machine to display an election ballot and record the vote and e-voting machines typically use touch screens as the data entry method for a voter's selection. We now wonder if people in Nigeria can use e-voting appropriately. The answer is no. Not all areas get to have such facilities during election or rather do people really have the knowledge of how to use it.
Present E-voting situation in Nigeria
Before coming up with suggestions on how to improve election in Nigeria we have to consider the present state of it.
Presently, e-voting is used in Nigeria but it hasn't been implemented all over the country. It was first used in 2007 election. It is mostly used in the urban areas during election. People living in rural areas are not able to vote. Furthermore, INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) is still trying to mount these electronic devices around the country but they also are having difficulties doing such. Although, it's been used today but it has still not improved fair election rather it is still the same. Also, the problem of power supply is still a big issue now. During election not every area gets to use this device. Even with the e-voting been used in the urban areas, people are still scared to come out to vote. Now we ask ourselves why then should we use such during voting?
It is only fair that before you come up with your own personal view on this matter. It is important that you do some research. For my research methodology I used the internet, read some articles from news papers, I also interviewed some people so as to hear their personal views and finally I went to a rural part of Yola so as to talk to the villagers about how the vote or rather do they have any knowledge about E-voting.
First of all, I used the internet so as to get a simple definition of what e-voting means. It also helped me in getting more information such as statistics which showed how e-voting has affected Nigeria's democracy.
Secondly, I went ahead to interview people on how they feel about the use of e-voting in Nigeria and if they think it has helped democracy in Nigeria. Most of them believe that e-voting is not the best method to help improve a fair election in Nigeria. Also, a little percent felt it has helped reduce situation where people forge numbers during election.
We all know this saying that seeing is believing. My visit to Numan in Yola gave me a true insight of what is really happening concerning the issue of voting. To my greatest surprise, a lot of villagers claimed they didn't know that e-voting is presently used in Nigeria. Below is a pie-chart explaining the results gotten from research methodology. It shows that the negative effect of e-voting is more than the benefit.
Advantages of E-voting
After the implementation of e-voting in Nigeria a lot of benefits have occurred.
Nigerians are very eccentric on the usage of Internet for social networking sites and many others, so it makes much sense to use the Internet as the major event for any such voting infrastructure;
In using this system as a tool, it will become a lot easier to self handily keep within limits the elections and afterwards make its transparency and fairness stronger;
Through e-voting fewer funds, effort, and labour are needed. The main cost and effort will centre mostly on the development, supervision, and management of a protected online voting portal;
People voting would find it easier and more suitable for them to individually vote, particularly in developed societies where life is a lot more commanded and planned;
Registration of voting and verification of identity (ID), addition of votes can all be obtained via E-voting system;
It has helped minimize ballot-box tampering. Through e-voting it is impossible for someone to carry the machine because it doesn't affect the data rather the results are sent via the internet.
Disadvantages of E-voting
Although e-voting has some benefits but it also has a lot of disadvantages.
First and foremost, the most important question is what if there is a programming mistake in the machine? It leads to wrong data which in return gives fake figures.
Secondly, we have to take into consideration the privacy of voters. During election voters have to give a little information about them. It is not safe because through this way, tracking of people is made possible.
One important reason of implementing the idea of using e-voting is to improve fair election in the country. An example is what happens when we have a situation where candidates go to bribe people to vote for them? Therefore we can say that no matter the method used we cannot confirm it is possible that such things can be prevented.
Another consideration we have to note is, if this machine was made by humans we can also say that people can hack into it. Presently, we are in a world of technology and we know that it is possible for people to hack into such devices.
Let us remember that voting is supposed to be done by the entire citizens of Nigeria. Unfortunately, this device is mostly installed in the urban areas of Nigeria. What then happens to the rural citizens? It is fair for them to also be free to vote for who they want because we are practicing democracy in Nigeria so everyone should have a right to vote.
Nigeria is still a developing country. During, election voters have complained that at times the electricity supply goes off for hours before it is returned. Places that have such problems have to keep waiting till the light is back. Such areas not everyone gets to vote at the end of the day. If so then how is e-voting helping Nigeria?
We all know that Nigeria is a country were illegal practices are done. For example, in Kogi State an E-voting machine was installed in Itaru village, people living in that area went to vote. What they didn't was that a fake server was mounted in that area. So after the whole villagers voted, the figures were tempered with before it was sent to real election server. If such is presently happening then democracy is definitely threatened by e-voting.
Finally, greed in Nigeria is one of the problems affecting democracy. The question still remains the same after these machines come up with figures, how sure are we that the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) wouldn't temper with these figures? Until this question is answered or rather until such greedy people are removed from the government, e-voting would continue to threaten Nigeria's democracy.
My personal opinion
I personally believe that before I answer this question, one have to consider some of these ethical theories.
Let's consider the theory of Kantianism, says that you are free to do whatever you can do for a good-will no matter the consequence. Now if this is so, what then do I think? Personally, I will say using this theory I can argue that it is ethically right.
Let's consider the theory of Utilitarianism, says that as long it increases total happiness to the society then it is right. We all know that using e-voting still has a lot of disadvantages and in return doesn't increase happiness to the people of the society. Therefore, it is ethically wrong to use e-voting in Nigeria.
Finally, I believe that e-voting threatens Nigeria's democracy. They are lots of disadvantages that have been explained above. I am not saying it hasn't helped in any way but the main issue still remains the same can we ever have a fair election? And the answer is no. Therefore, I don't think it is a good idea and I believe that a lot of amendment would have to be done in Nigeria before any possible improvement.
In conclusion, these are my following recommendations. First of all, voting system designers and producers should emphasize the usage of engineering in the development of their products. Also, Voters need a clear feedback on where they are in the voting events. Special protection should be taken to make it clear when the voting process is complete. We also need good security during election and finally video-conferencing can also help in improving a fair and better election in Nigeria.
Finally, if Nigeria can have seminars all over the country so as to enlighten people as to why they shouldn't sell their vote. Furthermore, Nigeria Government should endeavour that this electronic device is been installed around the country so that everyone can vote for who they want. Besides we are practicing democracy in Nigeria so everyone should have freedom to vote for who they want.