The Vice President of IMANI Africa has described the Electoral Commission (EC)’s April 18, scheduled date for a new voters’ registration exercise as “humanly impossible.”
According to Bright Simons, the assurances given by the election management body to put in place a credible set of new electronic logistics – both hardware and software – to execute the process is highly unlikely.
The Commission has for the past few months come under criticism for its decision to ditch the current electoral management system in its bid to improve the process.
In this light, the EC has listed a number of challenges facing the current system that have necessitated the move.
These include the obsolete nature and high rate of failure of the Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs), huge sums of money to be spent in refurbishing the existing technology, worn out sensors, the inability of BVDs to verify voters among others.
But some civil society organisations and the Inter-Party Resistance Against New Voters’ Register are unenthused by these reasons.
The latter, made up of some opposition political parties, has embarked on a series of demonstrations across the country to that effect.
Despite the concerns, the Electoral Commission remains resolute to compile a new roll from April 18 to May 30, 2020.
Speaking at the International Press Centre Tuesday, Bright Simons was confident that the commission may be forced to “take a shortcut” to help meet its deadline of 5 weeks as the said time allotted for the new system is not feasible.
“The EC cannot use a new system to conform to that timeline [April 18, 2020]. It is not possible…So if the EC goes ahead and does it then it will not be using the new system properly configured.
“There must be some shortcuts that they might have discovered, which is going to enable them. But if they are going to do the proper thing, it is not possible,” the IMANI Vice President explained.
There are about 36,000 polling stations, 8,000 electoral registration centres across the country on which these new hardware and software systems are expected to be hosted among other configurations.
With reference to these metrics, the technologist further probed that: “If you want to build a software platform that can manage 25 million voters… can you use six weeks to build such a system?
“How much does it take to do an excel project for your finances? Think about it carefully. You need to do specifications, documentation issues, have people start to develop, start field tests, review where necessary… how possible is it to do that in six weeks?”
Bright Simons also expressed suspicion about the tender processes involved in the procurement processes.
He, however, called on the Electoral Commissions to exhibit transparency in its dealings to avoid problems that may be encountered in the future.
“Because the EC has demonstrated a complete disinterest in doing things properly, we argue that they are likely to use a shortcut which could bring us problems. If not in this election, then subsequent ones.”