On Sunday, Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner on Voters Education of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed reports that Nigerian politicians were buying voter cards ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
The INEC official further added that this was a fruitless effort as one of the technological systems in place, the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), was incorporated to tackle this. Festus Okoye also threatened that any individual found in the possession of a Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) that does not belong to them would face prosecution according to the Electoral Act.
Why it matters
For many years, elected officers in Nigeria have continuously participated in election fraud, such as impersonation of voters, vote buying, snatching of ballot boxes, bribing electoral officials, etc. To address this menace, INEC is incorporating the use of technology to make elections more credible. The electoral body has recorded successes with these technologies in the Anambra, Ekiti and Osun State gubernatorial elections. One of these technologies is BVAS.
Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS)
BVAS is an authenticator device that identifies and accredits voters’ biometric details. The device captures voters’ fingerprints and photo identity and correlates it with the individual’s existing information on INEC’s voters register. It also transmits election results from each polling unit to an established election portal in real time.
BVAS is an upgrade to the Smart Card Readers (SCR) because it identifies if the actual PVC bearer is the one being verified, unlike the SCR which just scans the microchip embedded in the PVC. Also, the BVAS is synced with INEC’s Voters Enrolment Device (IVED); the technology used to register voters in polling units. The use of the BVAS and IVED automatically defeats impersonation of voters.