Nigeria may need 200K biometric voter verification devices
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) plans to use up to 200,000 Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices to run the country’s 2023 elections efficiently, reports the Nigerian Tribune.
The legacy smart card system of voter verification is being retired, and Nigeria has budgeted some 305 billion naira (US$741.8 million) for the election, in total.
Festus Okoye, INEC commissioner in charge of voter education, says a projected 176,846 polling units will be deployed for the elections, necessitating the huge number of new devices. Despite the cost, savings would be realized by avoiding the need for registration devices, and combining verification and transmission functions in the BVAS devices. He said he hopes the technology can be used for two or more electoral cycles.
The cost is not only taken up by the biometric devices, as Okoye says measures for keeping sensitive materials from the prying eyes of political stakeholders contribute to the cost.
INEC’s proposed changes will become official when an Electoral Act amendment bill is approved. Okoye warned that if the changes are not passed soon, it may not be possible to implement them in time for the 2023 polls.
The failure of many INEC enrolment machines used with the BVAS (with the ‘B’ reported as ‘”bimodal” rather than “biometric” at the time) caused disruptions in Anambra’s recent state elections.