Reps debate use of card reader for 2019 polls Wednesday

Image result for card reader for 2019 polls WednesdayA fresh bill seeking legal backing for the use of card reader as a voting device has been slated for debate and possible passage for second reading this week by the House of Representatives.

The debate, which will start on Wednesday, is on a bill to amend the Electoral Act, 2010 to specify that card reader should be recognised as a voting device.

The bill is listed against a member from Kaduna State, Mr. Simon Arabo.

A copy of this week’s Notice Paper, which The PUNCH sighted in Abuja on Monday, gave the title of the bill as, “A bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act, 2010 to, among other things, make our electoral process more credible by making the use of card reader, the credible means of voter accreditation and voting and enhancing transparency and efficiency in the conduct of free, fair and credible elections; and for related matters.”

The card reader has generated controversies since it was tested during the 2015 general elections.

Most of those opposing the use of the card reader argued that it was not recognised by the Electoral Act.

Incidentally, the House had in May 2016 passed a similar bill for second reading and referred it to the Committee on Electoral Matters for further legislative action.

The committee, which is headed by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Gome State, Aisha Dukku, conducted a public hearing on the bill.

It is unclear whether the House will go ahead to hold a fresh debate on the new bill by Arabo on Wednesday or simply resolve that it should be dropped.

In 2016, the sponsor of the first bill and the Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, had told the House that since the Supreme Court had declared the card reader illegal due to non-inclusion in the Electoral Act, the law should be amended to cover card reader.

He had stated, “The card reader has proven in recent elections to check multiple voting and other irregularities. It should be part of the Act.”

However, there were suggestions by some members on the way out for future polls.

For instance, the Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, told members that it was better to go all out for electronic voting as against limiting it to the card reader.

“The card reader too has shown that it is not perfect. So many eligible voters could not vote during the 2015 polls just for the fact that the card reader failed.

“If we allow a system that disenfranchises voters, it does not improve our electoral process. We are rather going backwards.

“We should go for electronic voting. People can vote any time at any point without necessarily crowding in one location,” Ogor added.