‘No e-voting, card readers compulsory for accreditation’ — the new electoral act adopted by reps


‘No e-voting, card readers compulsory for accreditation’ — the new electoral act adopted by reps 
The house of representatives has proposed that smart card readers must be used for accreditation before elections are conducted in any polling unit.
The proposal is contained in a bill which seeks to amend the provisions of the electoral act. It was considered by the committee of the whole on Thursday.
The bill — which has 41 clauses — also proposes that there will be no use of electronic voting during elections.
However, the lawmakers excluded the clause to re-order the election sequence which is now a different bill in the green chamber.
During the consideration, Kingsley Chinda,  a lawmaker from Rivers, had sought to add a new amendment that the election in any polling unit should be suspended if the card reader fails.
The amendment reads: “The presiding officer shall use the smartcard reader for accreditation of voters. Where the smartcard fails in any unit, the election in that unit will be suspended and conducted within 24 hours.”
The amendment, however, triggered protests from some of the lawmakers who warned of the delay such suspension would cause.
Yusuf Lasun, the deputy speaker, who presided over the session, said: “If the card reader fails to read in line polling unit, that means you are delaying result of the election in the entire ward.”
But Chinda said there will be no delays except in cases where the result from the polling unit will affect that of the entire ward.
“If that unit’s result will not affect the entire outcome, INEC doesn’t have to go back. But if it will affect the outcome, their (INEC) policy is that they must go back to do the accreditation with a card reader and conduct the election,” he said.
The lawmakers also deleted an amendment in the bill which seeks to introduce the use of electronic voting into the electoral act.
They said while an electronic instrument — the card reader — will be used only for accreditation, the voting will be strictly done manually.
Another major highlight of the bill is provision for the disqualification of a candidate if he or she is found to have filed fake documents, while the candidate’s party is to pay a fine of N1 million.
The proposal also seeks to disqualify the candidate from participating in a fresh election in cases where the initial election has been conducted.
It also includes the safekeeping of the voters’ register at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), its state or local government office.
In the event of electoral violence, the bill provides for the disqualification of a candidate alone without including the political party.
The house did not pass the entire bill as there are two clauses in it that are still up for approval.