DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AN ELECTRONIC VOTERS REGISTRATION SYSTEM
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) origin can be traced back to the period before independence when the Electoral commission of Nigeria was established to conduct the 1959 elections. The Federal Electoral Commission (FEC), established in 1960 conducted the immediate post-independence federal and regional elections of 1964 and 1965. The electoral body was dissolved after the military coup of 1966. In 1978, the federal electoral commission was constituted by the regime of General OlusegunObasanjo, organizing the elections of 1979 which ushered in the Nigerian second Republic under the leadership of AlhajiShehuShagari. It also conducted the general elections of 1983.
In December 1995, the military Government elections of General SaniAbacha established the Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON) which conducted another set of elections. These elected institutions were not inaugurated before the sudden death of General Abacha on June 1998 aborted the process. The electoral commission of Nigeria (NECON) was in 1998 dissolved by the then Head of State General AbdulsalaniAbukakar’s administration who then established the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC organized the transitional elections in 1999 that ushered in the Nigerian fourth Republic
Establishment of state independent Electoral commissions (SIECs) was provided for by the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria, which states in section 197(1) “there shall be established for each state of the federation , the state independent Electoral Commission who composition and power are set out in part II of the third schedule to this constitution”. It is therefore in line with this constitutional provision that the Rivers State House in may 2000, established the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) and the commission have successfully conducted two states elections for Local Government Chairman and Councilors elections. On the 27th of November, 2007, the current board of commissioners where appointed by the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. ChibuikeRotimiAmaechi. This present commissioners have Professor Nimi D. Briggs, OON as the chairman and chief electoral commissioner. The commission on the 11th January, 2008 presented their electoral guidelines alone side the code of conduct. According to the Law, section 5 (c) of the RSIEC Law No. 2 of 2001 as amended by RSIEC law No. 6 of 2007 outlined the functions of the commission as follows.
1. To organize, undertake and supervise all elections to Local Government and Councils within the state
2. To render some advice as it may consider necessary to the Independent National Electoral Commission on the compilation of the register of voters.
3. To provide guidelines to political parties stipulating the rules and procedure for electioneering campaigns for Local Government election.
4. To appoint, Train and Assign ad-hoc staff in staff in each polling unit to assist with the taking of the poll.
5. To conduct and supervise all parties primaries and referenda within the state.
6. To ensure that the dates, times and places of public election and referenda are fixed and that they are publicized and that elections are held accordingly within the state.
7. To announce the result of all elections within the state.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Lack of credible voters register has been widely criticized by Nigerians as the curse of electoral lapses in the electoral system. The voters register is been organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission which is the National body. The State Independent Electoral Commission must depend on INEC for their voters register. These denials the state independent electoral commission the opportunity to manage their voters registers. In most cases, states have to wait for INEC to provide the voters register before they can conduct state elections. This constitutes a big problem to conducting a free and fair election at state levels. The register of voters as provided by independent National Electoral Commission was deficient in several respects.
1. Some units did not have the name of any voter on the register (the so-called zero units) and yet there were people in those units who had authentic voter’s card.
2. Many persons who turned up with authentic voter’s cards did not have their names on the register of voters.
3. Names of voters were swapped between units and wards that were unrelated.
4. Missing photography’s and mismatch of photographs with the names on the register.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY.
The main aim and objective of this study is to design and implement an electronic voter’s registration system for credible elections within state levels. It is helpful to consider the two basic information management functions of this voter registration database (VRD), which is adding individuals to the list and maintaining the list.
The VRD is also the source of data for poll books (list of eligible voters in localities for use at polling units). The software developed will implement additional functionality to state voter registration systems that assists local election officials in conducting elections. Such functionality may include voter’s card verification.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research work is designed to enable Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) to use electronic device in capturing voter’s information. The design will cover some security issues like capturing the picture of the electorates for validation during election.
1.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This research work was limited to developing a database for storing state voters register. This will be independent of the national voters register and can only be used for state elections.
Due to time constraint, programme developed covers functionality like voter’s cards verification and adding individuals to the list.
Generally, study of this nature would have constraints such as time, money and data collection method. I wish to equally say and bring to notice that the structure interview used has the limitation of rigidity thereby restricting the information obtained. Also, the busy schedule of electoral officers (during the 2011 elections) who were interviewed would impact negatively on the character of the responses.
Also, the ongoing elections restricted me from getting vital information from INEC since I was denied access on many occasions.
Finally, restriction from the school authority when there was need for me ton goes out for some vital materials and information for the research was another major obstacle.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This project work will help in a good number of ways in conducting credible elections within the state level. The state electronic voter’s registration system enables the state electoral body (RSIEC) to achieve the followings.
1. Conduct free and fair election within the state
2. Maintain a state voters register electronically
3. Determine the voting strength of the state
4. Eliminate disenfranchising electorates
5. Security purpose.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
VRD: Voter Registration Databases
INEC: Independent National Electoral Commission
RSIEC: Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission
Voter Registration: This is the requirement in some democracies for citizens and residents to check in with some central registry specifically for the purpose of being allowed to vote in elections.
Voting System: This is a method by which voters make a choice between option, often in an election or on a policy referendum.
E-voting: This term encompasses several different types of voting embracing both electronic means of casting a voting and electronic means of casting votes.
Technology: This is study of techniques or process of mobilizing resources (such as information) for accomplishing objectives that benefit man and his environment.
Database: A systematically arranged collection of computer data structured so that it can be automatically retrieved or manipulated. It is also called databank.
Voters Card: This is an identity card issued by electoral commission to registered voters which identifies and qualifies them to participate in electoral polls.
SSN: SOCIAL Security Number
DMV: Department of motor Vehicle
SSA: Social Security Administration
AAMVA: American Association of motor vehicle Administrators.
HAVA: Help American Voting Act.