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2019 Elections: Smart Card Reader Challenges

Several States experienced difficulties and delays with the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) for accreditation and voting. There were reports from Ogun, Imo, Lagos, Abia, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Kaduna States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on difficulties with the use of the devices on Election Day. There were also instances where INEC officials resorted to manual accreditation in Imo State and Sokoto State. It will be recalled that the SCR was introduced as an anti-fraud electoral device to enhance the integrity of the voting process; discourage ghost voters and prevent multiple voting as only accredited and verified PVC holders can vote. According to reports the Presidential candidate of the Young People’s Party (YPP), Professor Kingsley Moghalu and Yakubu Dogara, the speaker of the House of Representatives experienced difficulties with the SCR failing to capture their fingerprints during the accreditation process at their polling units in Anambra and Bauchi States, respectively. Despite the malfunction of SCRs across the country, INEC has expressed satisfaction with the overall usage of the device, as expressed via one of its social media platforms: “INEC is pleased to report that the Smart Card Readers proved its functionality and efficiency by successfully authenticating all Presidential Candidates among millions of other Voters within a short time at their respective polling units across the country.”

It was reported that some members of the National Youth Corps Service who worked as ad hoc staff, could not operate card readers properly during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. According to the Collation Officer in Lokoja, Kogi State, Dr. Joseph Folorunsho: “Some of the ad hoc staff could not operate the SCRs despite the intensive training they received from INEC. It is disheartening that a graduate trained on the use of a card reader was unable to use the device which is critical to the electoral process.” According to him “As a result of this inability on the part of some of the corps members, SCRs were not used in many polling units and delays were experienced.”

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