The Nigerian Senate a few days ago finally passed amendments to the Electoral Act 2010.
The passage of the bill followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on a Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and for other related matters (SB 231 and SB 234).
Major highlights of the new bill include provision for the use of electronic voting by INEC during future elections, use of Card Reader and also gives INEC power to modify the voting process if there is a challenge.
The Senate also approved a provision to enable INEC transmit the result of elections electronically in an encrypted and secured manner to prevent hacking.
Here are five things Nigerians need to know about the bill, as the nation gradually moves towards the next general elections in 2 years.
1. INSTANT TRANSMISSION OF RESULTS The Senate's INEC reform bill mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centers. This will help give real-time result updates and end election malpractice.
2. ONLINE PUBLICATION OF VOTER REGISTERS The Senate's INEC reform bill mandates that INEC voter registers must now be published 30 days before the election. This will end the manipulation of voter registers.
3. FULL BIOMETRIC ACCREDITATION The Senate's electoral reform bill gives INEC powers to utilize full biometric accreditation of voters with smart card readers and/or other technological devices, as INEC may introduce for elections from time to time.
4. RESTRICTS ARBITRARY QUALIFICATIONS According to the Senate's electoral reform bill, political parties can no longer impose arbitrary qualification criteria on candidates. This will encourage younger voters to contest and make elections less about money and more about ideas.
5. MORE DIRECT PRIMARIES According to the Senate's electoral reform bill, all party members are now eligible to determine the ad-hoc delegates to elect candidates in the primary process.This will make the election process more democratic.