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Between the 1999 elections and now, Nigeria’s election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, deployed a number of ICT equipment to improve the management and conduct of elections in Nigeria. From typewriters used in the 1999 election to Direct Data Capture Machine (DDCM) used in all elections since the 2007 election to Electronic Voters Registration (EVR), Smart Card Reader (SCR) and E-collation.

What does the Smart Card Reader Do?

The card readers were introduced to read the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) which was introduced to replace the Temporary Voters Card used in the 2011 elections. The PVCs are embedded with chips containing personal details of the card owners including their photographs and fingerprints. The SCR is used to identify the owner of the PVC using their photograph, verify that the PVC is original, and authenticate users by matching their fingerprints to the one stored on the card.

How does the SCR Work?

The card reader runs on the Android operating system and comes with a 3200mAh removable battery which allows it to run for about 12 hours. Backup batteries are also available for when the battery runs out. The card readers are configured to work only on election day with each of them configured to a specific polling unit. The card reader will not work in a polling unit it was not configured for unless it is reconfigured by an authorised INEC personnel.

Configuring the card reader to a polling unit means the voter register for that polling unit is also copied on to it. This ensures that a PVC can only be used at the polling unit for which it is registered and only once. Data about PVCs read during the election are transmitted over the internet using GSM data to the central INEC server.

The card reader reads the card details from the embedded chip and with the aid of its display screen and keypad, the process of identification, verification, and authentication is carried out.

Now you know a bit more about one device that will be used by millions of Nigerians as they elect their preferred candidates into various positions.

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This article was first published on 14th February 2019


Tobenna is a writer, programmer and musician who is passionate about God, tech, and music. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook by clicking the icons below.

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