The use of new technology in elections | Dailytrust

The use of new technology in elections

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Smartphones can empower Nigerians to double as citizen monitors, spreading information, pictures and video of voting in real time. By employing these forward-looking tools, the youth can become an important factor in 2023 with the use of technology that enhances efficiency and transparency of the election process.

Today, most electoral management bodies (EMBs) around the world use new technologies with the aim of improving the electoral process. These technologies range from the use of basic office automation tools such as word processing and spreadsheets to more sophisticated data processing tools, such as database management systems, optical scanning and geographic information systems. One important application of technology to elections is e-voting, the use of electronic technology in casting or counting votes. E-voting has many uses, including increasing participation among voters abroad and making elections more inclusive for voters with disabilities.

Now, in many of the advanced economies, voting technologies are developed in parallel with advances in information processing technology. Paper ballots were the only means of voting until the late 1800s, when automation began to be used to assist in counting votes. Nowadays, almost all ballots in the U.S. are counted using computer-assisted technologies.

A major feature of the 2000 recount controversy in Florida was the performance of punch-card voting machines, which were beset with problems associated with poor ballot design and “chads” that failed to separate from the punch cards correctly. Antiquated voting technologies were rapidly replaced after 2000 with increasing use of purely electronic machines, which prompted controversies over whether they could be trusted to record votes accurately. That controversy has reversed the trend and led to a decline in the use of purely electronic voting machines in recent years, along with agitation for more sophisticated methods to audit the performance of voting machines.

 Starting in the early 2000s, voting machines were replaced in a wholesale fashion, spurred on by the availability of federal funds to buy new equipment under the passage of the Help America Vote Act. By the mid-2010s, this equipment had become obsolete, which led the Presidential Commission on Election Administration to note that there was an “impending crisis” in voting technology.

According to Dr Abiodun Fatai of Lagos, Lagos State University digital technologies can improve the reliability of election results and can help in bringing good leaders. Fatal said digital technologies include biometric voter registration, smart card readers, voters’ cards, optical mark recognition, direct electronic recording, and electronic result transmission.

Though he said the principal reason for using them is to contain electoral fraud and also promote the credibility of elections, 100 per cent success is yet to be achieved in the country.

“Nigeria started using digital technology in the electoral process in 2011. The Independent National Electoral Commission introduced the automated fingerprint identification system to stop voters from registering more than once’’, he said.

The permanent voters’ card and smart card reader were introduced in the 2015 general elections. At the polling station, a voter’s identity is verified by matching his or her biometrics to the voters’ card. The voter is then allowed to vote and the votes are counted manually after the voting ends.

The reliability of these devices generated some controversy among Nigerians, but using them in the 2015 and 2019 general elections improved the legitimacy of the electoral process. Electoral outcomes were better accepted, with fewer objections to the results.

But the delay in the deployment of the 5G telecom network may not allow Nigeria to embrace advanced technologies in the 2023 elections.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had said it is hopeful that 5G services will be available by the fourth quarter of this year in the country.

The Head, Spectrum Administration, NCC, Usman Aliyu, disclosed this last week while speaking on 5G deployment at a capacity building workshop organised for ICT journalists by the commission in Abuja.

He said cleaning of the bands is ongoing with the migration of the users from the 3.4-3.8 GHz spectrum following the ratification of the use of Nigerian Communications Satellite by the National Frequency Management Council.

According to https://www.surveyandballot.com, there are new technologies that can help in the electoral process.

Here are five technology upgrades to consider for election:

Embedded login links

If an online voting option is offered, the top issue is potential voters misplacing their user names and/or password information.

You can eliminate this issue with embedded auto login links right in the election invitation email and any reminder emails.

Users simply click the link, are automatically authenticated and allowed into the online voting system to cast their secure ballot.

Geo-spatial mapping

People respond better to visual data and Geo-spatial mapping transforms your election data into interactive graphics so you can gain an immediate understanding of voting trends.

Staff and volunteers can spot new opportunities, identify areas of voter strengths and weaknesses and quickly garner an in-depth understanding and analysis of what happens during your elections.

QR codes

When it comes to getting voters to cast their ballots, the key is to make it as easy and convenient as possible.

By utilising custom QR codes, voters can simply scan the code (printed on personalised election materials) with their mobile device and quickly log in to their secure online ballots.

Single sign-on

Single sign-on technology turns your organisation’s website into an online election portal and securely authenticates eligible voters right then and there.

No more forgotten passwords and increased traffic to your website – that makes single sign-on a powerful solution that works for you.

Participation reminders

When members don’t receive an election reminder, they’re much less likely to vote. Members receiving at least three election reminders are nearly twice as likely to cast their ballots.

Letters, postcards, emails and online reminders, when well-timed and skillfully crafted, are a proven way to boost voter turnout. If this sounds like a lot of work, it can be if you’re not taking advantage of technology to schedule, deploy, track and report the results. Let technology take this task off your plate.

Technology, when it’s tested and expertly used, can increase voter participation by providing members quick, easy, convenient and secure options to cast their ballots.

But while these technologies open up new frontiers and offer new possibilities for the electoral process, especially for voting operations, experts said there might be unforeseen risks involved, such as an increase in vote selling or difficulty in auditing election results. Careful consideration also needs to be given to the risks of inappropriate or untimely introduction of technology, especially if it has the potential to compromise transparency, local ownership or sustainability of the electoral process. Cybersecurity in elections has and will continue to receive attention from the public, governments and media.  Although technological improvements to the administration of elections can be substantial, these gains must be balanced with the potential for new vulnerabilities and problems. Many of the countries that experimented with e-voting, for example, are now returning to pen and paper or scrapping their pilot projects because of security issues. When abandoning technologies is infeasible, good preparation can help mitigate similar cybersecurity risks. 

These and some other hidden motives may be the fears Nigerian politicians have. towards embracing new technologies for electoral process

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