Electronic voting: a testing ground in Africa?

By March 17, 2017
E Vote Nigeria

The Nigerian Electronic Development Institute (ELDI) has developed ‘electronic ballot boxes’ – i.e. e-voting machines. The immediate aim is to prevent fraud during the upcoming 2019 national elections.

While online voting systems have been implemented to some degree during elections in Europe and the USA , development of these systems in Africa has so far been stymied by technical, political and financial issues. Now however, a project team in Nigeria has apparently come up with a workable solution. They created an e-voting machine (EVM) that uses three different modes of identification: facial recognition, thumbprint authentication and a card reader. This highly practical functionality means that each vote cast takes just 50 to 90 seconds to process. The EVM also relies on Cloud-based storage, so that election results can be followed almost in real time and the potential for fraud is radically reduced.

Of its many advantages, the key innovation is perhaps the fact that the system works without either batteries or being plugged into the electricity grid: these EVMs are solar-powered. However, while this initiative might be able to provide a solution to the need to ensure fair and secure elections in Africa, it will still be very expensive to roll out, especially on a national scale. It therefore remains to be seen whether the Nigerian authorities will be able to find a budget for the EVMs, as the total cost of implementing the system has been estimated at over €1 billion equivalent.

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