ELECTRONIC VOTING IN NIGERIA: POSSIBILITIES AND PROSPECTS


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ELECTRONIC VOTING IN NIGERIA: POSSIBILITIES AND PROSPECTS

 

ABSTRACT

The study examined the possibilities and prospects of electronic voting in Nigeria in relation to whether or not the adoption of electronic voting would reduce election fraud and increase voter participation in Nigeria. Two hypothesis were however adopted and evaluated with effective data presentation to establish the relationship between the various variables of the study. The E-democracy theory was adopted as the most suitable theory for the study because of its supposition that the introduction of information and communication technology (ICT) in political process can help mitigate some various challenges in major constitutional democracies. The simple percentage method was used as the method of analysis because of the adoption of the questionnaire design. The sources of data were majorly secondary. However, the study established that the adoption of electronic voting in Nigeria would help reduce the existing loopholes in the traditional voting system and would also increase voter participation in the country. Following from this, the study recommended that INEC must develop a strong anti virus and anti hacking softwares to ward off credible threats capable of jeopardizing the new system, as this threat remains the major challenge to adopting such technology in the country.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Title page     -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    iDeclaration    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    iiCertification    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    iiiDedication    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    ivAcknowledgements    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    vAbstract    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    viTable of Contents    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    viiList of Tables    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    viii

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION1.1    Background to the Study     -    -    -    -    -    -    11.2    Statement of the Research Problem    -    -    -    -    -    21.3    Research Question    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    41.4    Objectives of the Study     -    -    -    -    -    -    41.5    Hypothesis    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    41.6    Significance of the Study    -    -    -    -    -    -    5    1.7    Scope of the Study     -    -    -    -    -    -    -    51.8    Limitations of the Study     -    -    -    -    -    -    61.9    Definition of Terms           -    -    -    -    -    -    6   

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK2.0    Introduction      -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    10    2.1    General and Conceptual Literature     -    -    -    -    -    10 2.1.1.    Understanding the Concept of Electronic Voting (E-Voting)    -    10    2.1.2.     Electronic Voting in Europe    -    -    -    -    -    -    13    2.1.4. The Concept and Challenges Of the Traditional Paper Ballot System    -    192.1.5    E-voting as a Remedy to the Challenges of the Traditional Paper Ballot System in Nigeria    -    -    -    -    -    222.1.6    The Concept of Electoral Fraud    -    -    -    -    -    232.1.7     Voter Apathy; A Function of Electoral Fraud in Nigeria    -    -    262.1.8    Electronic Voting as a Remedy to Electoral Fraud in Nigeria    -    28    2.1.9    The Prospects, Possibilities and Challenges of E -Voting in Nigeria    -    292.10     The Concept of Political Participation    -    -    -    -    312.11     The History of Voter Apathy in Nigeria    -    -    -    -    342.12     E-voting as a Framework to Political participation    -    -    -    352.2    Case Study Literature    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    362.3     Theoretical Framework    -    -    -    -    -    -    392.3.1. The Systems Theory    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    392.3.2. The theory of E-democracy    -    -    -    -    -    -    412.3.3     The Relevance of the E-democracy theory to this study    -    -    43

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY3.0     Introduction    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    453.1     Research Design    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    453.2    Description of Area of Study    -    -    -    -    -    -    t463.3     Sources and Instrument for Data Collection    -    -    -    -    473.4     Sample and Sampling Techniques    -    -    -    -    -    473.5     Population of Study    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    473.6    Method of Data Analysis    -    -    -    -    -    -    47

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS4.0    Introduction    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    484.1     Distribution and Collection of Questionnaire    -    -    -    -    484.1.1    Demographic Data of Respondents    -    -    -    -    -    494.1.2     Response to Research Question 1    -    -    -    -    -    514.1.3    Response to Research Question 2    -    -    -    -    -    534.1.4     Response to Research Question 3    -    -    -    -    -    594.2    Test/Evaluation of Research Hypothesis    -    -    -    -    644.3    Discussion of Findings    -    -    -    -    -    -    64

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION5.1    Summary    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    665.2    Conclusion    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    665.3    Recommendation    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    675.4    Suggestion for Further Reading    -    -    -    -    -    68REFERENCES    -    -    -    -    -    -    -    69

CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1    Background to the Study Over the part few decades, Nigeria have long aspired strenuously for democracy and for an effective electoral process as an integral part for democratic government. This has been so from the 1970’s until the transition to democratic governance in 1999. The electoral process which brought the fourth republic under president Obasanjo were unremarkable and, at best, condoned by the international community and tolerated by Nigerians, only because they were perceived as heralding the dawn of a new democratic era, after a long spate of military rule. Hopes and expectation that the new civilian government would pave the way for better governance were perennially overshadowed by the flaws of the electoral process. However, as civil rule did not soon enough translate into good governance, as people’s hopes and aspiration continued to be dashed by graving unemployment, increasing poverty, persistent insecurity and reckless misrule; and as the conduct of elections that were supposed to reflect “popular sovereignty” and choices of elected officials became progressively worse from one election to another, without doubt, despair, skepticism and apathy became pervasive. Also, it soon became clear, in successive elections that popular choices made by the people through the electoral process were easily truncated, such that periodic elections became rituals in which predetermined outcomes are declared; or the highest bidder bought the outcomes; or the most reckless, using violence, thugs or some elements in the security agencies to steal and rob the votes, and it increasingly became evident that the citizen’s genuine choices through their votes did not determine electoral outcome. This have brought Nigeria’s electoral process under criticisms in successive Nigerian elections, and most importantly, it has also brought the existing traditional paper ballot system under increasing critique. However, since the late 1990s, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has made commendable strides towards modernizing the electoral process; from the electronic voter register (EVR), to the Biometric Smart card Readers (SCRs). Despite this, the country still adopts a traditional paper ballot system which has continued to be marred by a plethora of irregularities, shortcoming and controversies. More often than not, the traditional paper ballot system has given rise to many irregularities such as predetermined electoral outcomes, falsification of voters’ register, under aged voting, snatching of ballot boxes, the disfranchisement of qualified physically challenged and those who love and work abroad and a deliberate falsification of vote figures to favour a particular candidate. These problems have tremendously and irredeemably bastardized the democratic procedure in Nigeria. Apart from the above, the traditional paper ballot system have also given rise to other problem like political violence, assassinations and the electorate fear of an impending violence and cross-party clashes during elections in Nigeria. Consequently, this has negatively impacted on the political behaviour of citizens in Nigeria by promoting voter apathy during elections in Nigeria. The widespread voter apathy across the citizenry has obviously undermined Nigeria’s democratic experience as well as the notion of “free, fair and credible” elections in Nigeria’s democracy. Therefore, it is within the above context that this research seeks to examine the possibilities and prospects of electronic voting (E-voting) in  reducing election fraud and in improving the rate of political participation in Nigeria’s electioneering.

1.2    Statement of the Research ProblemPoor electoral system in Nigeria has been a major cause of insalubrious political competitions among power contenders and have consequently led to electoral fraud and violence. Nigeria’s electoral process has been flawed by a plethora of anti-democratic practices and problems. Major among these problems include; missing names of some registered voters, intimidations, the falsification of voters register, underage voting, snatching and destruction of ballot boxes, the disfranchisement of qualified physically challenged and those who live and work abroad, the miscomputation and falsification of vote figures and results to favour a particular candidate and so on. However, from the foregoing, it is indicative that the existing traditional paper ballot system lacks the essential ingredient for recording transparency, accountability and free and fair play. Nigeria’s poor electoral system have also stimulated election related violence with for reaching consequence of eroding peoples’ trust and confidence in the electoral process. Most importantly, the challenges of Nigeria’s traditional paper ballot system have created fears in the hearts and minds of the citizens over the fear of an impending violence and cross party clashes during elections.    Given the above scenario, there has been a pandemic and a widespread of voter apathy for politics and elections in Nigeria. Large percentages of Nigerians have developed apathy for politics due to the growing feelings and levels of electoral fraud and irregularities that usually occur during elections, the weak security measures at the voting centres, disruptions of voting centres by thugs as well as the reoccurrence of casualties in Nigeria’s history of elections. Voter apathy in Nigeria is not a product of lack of interest in the political process or political outcome. Rather, it has been a product of orchestrated disruptions by the political class to make the electoral process inconvenient. This plan spreads into the bureaucratic choice of voter registration, violence at the polls and the volatility of party politics. All these work together to exclude the enlightened voter from participation. Mischief politicians and some politicians and some partisan electoral officials who exploit the weaknesses of the traditional voting system to perpetrate electoral frauds have been the cause of Nigeria’s electoral misfortune and its cumulative effects have further stimulated election violence with far reaching consequence of eroding people’s faith and trust in Nigeria’s traditional voting system. An acceptable method of voting in Nigeria has been a clarion call that sets in motion, efforts for improvements and the recent exploration in the use of electronic device. Information system (IS) scholars and democratic practitioners have advocated the use of various technologies to improve democratic practices. Democratic practices can be at its meaningful best if measures that can ensure transparency and an equal opportunity to vote and be voted for, including making provisions for qualified voters irrespective of physical challenges and place of residence, are adopted. The adoption of electronic voting can take care of these challenges. This phenomenon profoundly influenced Nigeria’s policy makers to explore the viability of adopting electronic voting in public elections. Notwithstanding, there has been a plethora of literature on the prospects of electronic voting in Nigeria, but a gap in literature exists as there has been no conscious effort made to establish a causal relationship which may exist between the voting system in Nigeria and the two sided variables or electoral fraud and political participation. Therefore, it is within the above context that this study seeks to examine whether or not the adoption of electronic voting would reduce electoral fraud and increase political participation in Nigeria.

1.3    Research Questioni.    To what extent is electronic voting needed in Nigeria? ii.    To what extent is election fraud a function of Nigeria's traditional paper ballot system?iii.    To what extent will electronic voting increase political participation in Nigeria?

1.4    Objectives of the Study The objectives of this work is divided into two(2) categories; the main objectives and subsidiary objectives. The main objective is the central objective of this research. The subsidiary defines other objectives this study seeks to achieve.

1.4.1    Main Objective The main objective of this work seeks to examine the causal relationship as to whether or not the adoption of electronic voting would curb electoral fraud vis-à-vis increasing political participation in Nigeria.

1.4.2      Subsidiary objective i.          To examine whether E-voting is necessary in Nigeria. ii.        To examine whether Nigeria's traditional voting system is responsible for election fraud.iii.    To examine whether E-voting has the capabilities to curb electoral fraud in Nigeria. iv.        To examine whether E-voting would enhance voter participation in Nigeria. v.        To examine whether E-voting would enhance democracy in Nigeria.

1.5    HypothesisHypothesis 1Ho:    There is no significant relationship between the traditional paper ballot system and electoral fraud. Hi:    There is a significant relationship between the traditional paper ballot system and electoral fraud. Hypothesis IIHo:    There is no significant relationship between electronic voting and political participation. Hi:    There is a significant relationship between electronic voting political participation.

1.6    Significance of the StudyEmpirically, the study will sensitize the Nigerian electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the urgent need to consider improving the conduct of elections in Nigeria through the adoption of electronic voting. The justification for this study lies in its ascertained and proven benefit to voters with disability and those who live and work abroad in particular and in curbing electoral malpractices through the introduction of relative transparency in the electoral process. Nigeria have experienced difficulties in the collation and counting of votes cast. Hence, it is at this stage of election that worst and unsettling electoral frauds are committed. The introduction of E-voting will definitely reduce the degree of frauds in the electoral process. Theoretically, the study will be a spring board for questions to be asked in the literature of political science which will serve as applied research to facilitate strategic policy action for development.

1.7    Scope of the Study The scope of this research is divided into two (2); the spatial and temporal scope. The spatial deals with the extent or area the work covers. The study therefore intends to examine the possibilities of an increased political participation and reduced election fraud in Nigeria's electoral process through the adoption of electronic voting. The temporal scope has to do with the timeframe the study intends to cover, which is from 1999 to date.

1.8    Limitations of the Study The limitations of every study has to do with the barriers encountered towards the realization of the research objectives. These constraints are; finance, lack of adequate data,  Objectivity and Bias.

1.8.1     Finance: This research study is a field survey. Great finance was relied upon to embark on this study. Moreover, there were problems of borrowings in order to fund this project.

1.8.2    Lack of Adequate DataIt has been difficult to get facts and figures that adequately projects the objective of this research for the chapter one and chapter two. The bulk of data used were mainly descriptive.

1.8.3    Objectivity and Bias It is difficult to separate the fact from the researchers values. The subject matter of this study are constantly influenced by the researchers values, background and orientations. But this does not in any way refute the major findings of the study.However, all these notwithstanding, the researcher have continuously strived to get all the needed data for this research.

1.9    Definition of Terms       There is always need to define and simplify relevant terms and terminologies of every research work in order to make appropriate meaning to the reader within the content projected by the researcher. Therefore, the following terminologies are deemed relevant; election, Traditional ballot system, Voting, E- voting, INEC, Voter Apathy, political participation.

1.9.1    Election: In simple terms, election is the formal democratic process of selecting a person for public office or of accepting or rejecting a political proposition by voting. It is also a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Within the context of this study election is an all-inclusive process that is further defined by the electoral process. Therefore, election is a complex process that relates to the entire cycle ranging from the provision of voter education cum registration of voters, nomination of candidates, the voting process, collation of results, to the announcement of results and even the completion of tribunal sittings.

1.9.2    Traditional Ballot System: In clear terms, this can be defined as a traditional cum manual voting method used to cast votes in an election. This can also be defined as a voting system by which electorates vote candidates for a public office through the use of ballot papers, boxes and sometimes election devices at a polling place or voting booth. Going further within the context of this research, it involves the following; first, the voters who physically go to polling places to manually indicate their choices among alternatives. Second, the polling unit or polling place where voters come for the voting exercise. Third, the use of ballot materials like boxes and papers to identify voter’s choices as well as the physical counting of votes, collation and the announcements of results by the electoral staffs at the polling places.

1.9.3    Voting: voting can be defined as a process of choosing or indicating an individuals preferred choice in an election. It is also the process of choosing candidates for particular public office(s) in an election. It is also the process of electing public representatives in elections. Within the context of this study, the term involves the process whereby electorates participates in the various electoral process by choosing a preferred candidate among alternatives to represent them in an election.

1.9.4    E-voting: In simple terms, E-voting is an acronym for electronic voting. It is defined as a voting system whereby there is a significant use of electronic means to either aid or take care of casting and counting votes. It also means voting with the aid of electronic devices such as a computer network, internet, telephone and mobile phones etc. In otherwords, E-voting refers to technologies that are used within the voting process such as; digital broadcasting, telephony, internet, punched cards, direct recording electronic systems (DRE) etc.  However, E-voting as a concept is a term of broader meaning because there are a variety of E-voting set ups. But majorly, two main types of E-voting can be identified: The E-voting that is aided by the use of electronic devices and voting machines such as; Smart card readers, punched cards etc in a polling place that is physically supervised by representatives of governmental or independent electoral authorities. Within the context and for the purpose of this study, this type is called “The traditional E-voting system”. The remote E-voting via the internet (also called I-voting) where the voter submits their votes electronically to the election authorities via the use of electronics connected to the internet from any location at any given time. Here, the casting, counting and even the announcement of votes are usually done via the internet. For the purpose of this research study, the term E-voting refers to the second category otherwise called internet voting (or I-voting).

1.9.5    Electoral Fraud: This is simply defined as the illegal distortion, interference and the obstruction of the electoral process. Technically, the term covers only those acts which are illegal. But however, it is also used to define acts which are sometimes legal but considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of the electoral process or in violation of the principle of democracy. Electoral fraud can also be defined as the illegal and immoral obstruction of an electoral process. Hence, within the context of this study, electoral fraud is used inter changeably with “electoral irregularities”, some of which may include the following; predetermined electoral outcomes, the falsification of voters register, under aged voting, snatching  and destruction of ballot boxes, as well as the disenfranchisement of the voting rights to qualified physically challenged persons and those who live and work abroad. It may also include pre and post electoral related violence and assassinations etc.

1.9.6    INEC – The Acronym is short for the independent national electoral commission. Independent National Electoral Commission is an electoral body which was set up in 1998 to conduct and oversee elections and the electoral process in Nigeria. It is also an institution empowered by the 1999 CFRN to conduct election in Nigeria. As an umpire, the institution is supposed to be truly independent in order to conduct a free, fair and credible elections.

1.9.7    Voter apathy: This can be defined as a situation in which a lot of people have the right to vote but do not vote in elections. Simply put, it is the lack of interest among voters in the electoral process. Within the context of this study, it is defined as the lack of interest in the electoral process mainly due to the frequent occurrence of electoral irregularities and electoral fraud.

1.9.8    Political participation: Simply put, the term political participation refers to those voluntary activities by which members of society share in the selection of rulers and, directly or indirectly in the formation of public policy. These activities typically includes; voting, seeking information, attending meetings, contributing financially and communicating with representatives. Within, the context of this research study, the term “political participation” is primarily used to mean “voting”. Hence, voting is used as a yardstick for political participation and may sometimes be used interchangeably with the latter during the course of this study.

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ELECTRONIC VOTING IN NIGERIA: POSSIBILITIES AND PROSPECTS


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