Tuesday, March 21, 2023

BVAS: INEC’s Technological Evolution

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the body that handles elections in Nigeria. They have been at the forefront of ensuring free, fair, and credible elections with several technological advancements.



As of 1999, the process of voting, voter registration, result-collation, and transmission was done manually.

In 2016, digitalization took over voter registration, accreditation, and result transmission, moving from the manual to Electronic Voter Register (EVR) to the Automatic Fingerprints Identification System (AFIS) before advancing to the Smart Card Reader (SCR) and, most recently, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

READ ALSO: INEC Suspends Sokoto REC Few Days To Election

BVAS is an electronic device used to scan and read Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and verify the card holder by using fingerprints and facial recognition.

Apart from the aforementioned use, the machine will also transmit a picture of the result sheet at polling units to the INEC portal in real-time for public accessibility, as long as they are logged into the portal.

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BVAS was first used in the Isoko South Constituency bye-election in Delta State on the 10th of September 2021. The new system was subject to criticism where some officers complained that the machine was unable to capture both thumbprints and faces of aged voters.

The commission aimed to put an end to irregularities at polling units and collation centres where results are sometimes hijacked, changed, or in worst-case scenarios, destroyed.

BVAS will therefore improve the accuracy, transparency, and credibility of the collation process.

With this technological advancement, BVAS must read the voter’s PVC and authenticate the legal cardholder before the voter can cast his vote.

It should be noted that the machine works offline to accredit voters but requires a network connection to send results to the INEC portal.

Furthermore, some polling units complained that the machine wasn’t efficient enough as some voters weren’t accredited to vote. The lack of data connection barred the agents from automatically transmitting the results which made Nigerians question the promise made by INEC and the use of the BVAS.
According to the schedule released by INEC, the voting exercise should begin at 8:30am and end at 2:30pm but that wasn’t the case in most places where accreditation was a huge problem. You would think these problems would have been resolved since its first use in 2021.
With the gubernatorial elections scheduled to hold on Saturday, 11th March 2023, we hope to see some changes in the functionality of the BVAS.
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Photo credit: Getty

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