Advancing electronic voting systems in Nigeria's electoral process: legal challenges and future directions
This article aims to examine the legal and policy challenges associated with adopting an electronic voting (e-voting) system in Nigeria’s electoral process. Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy, has for many years been held down by issues of election fraud, thuggery, violence as seen in past manual elections in the country. The article argues that, if properly implemented and financed, e-election offers great promise and potential as the panacea for voter fraud in Nigeria’s electoral system. First, it examines the theoretical, legal and constitutional basis for e-voting. Second, drawing lessons from other jurisdictions, it analyses practical challenges for the implementation and adoption of an e-voting system in Nigeria. These challenges include the possible compromise of e-voting devices, by viruses or other malicious software; manipulation by people with privileged access to the system, either system developers, system administrators or malicious hackers; denial-of-service attacks (attacks that result in the e-voting facility being disabled or otherwise unavailable for voters to use); lack of adequate supervision mechanisms; and the difficulties of proving electronic attacks in courts of law among other things. Many of these problems are beyond the contemplation of and, therefore, are unaddressed by Nigeria’s Electoral Act, making the law currently incapable and unsuitable to effectively respond to these problems. The article calls for a reform of the Nigerian Electoral Act to better address peculiar legal and constitutional challenges associated with e-voting systems.
Keywords: E-elections, Hacking, Democracy, Election Piloting