E-voting is short for “electronic voting’ and refers to the option of using electronic means to vote in referendums and elections. There are systems such as DRE (Direct electronic recording) voting machines that record the vote without that vote being transmitted over the Internet or another network. The interface of a DRE machine can be a touch screen or a scanner that scans the ballot paper where the voter marked the vote. The vote is then registered and stored in the voting machine. Then there is the voting over the Internet that uses a Personal Computer (PC) with an Internet-connection to cast the vote and send it to be stored in another remote computer. Personal Digital Assistants (PDA”s), telephones or mobile phones can also be used to cast a vote electronically. There are a wide variety of e-voting set ups, ranging from the casting of the vote with the aid of an electronic device (voting machines) inside computer intelligence polling station to casting a vote anywhere outside the polling station at a PC and transmitting the vote via the Internet.
As a prelude to other parts of this study, this chapter will discuss the background upon which this study was initiated, the statement of problems that led to this study, the Aim and Objectives of the study. Others are Significance of the study, Scope of work, Limitation of the study and Definition of technical terms.
1.2 Background of the Study
E-Voting is an election system that allows a voter to record his or her secure and secret ballot electronically. In 2004; it’s estimated that approximately 30 percent of the voting population in the United State used some form of e-voting technology, including direct electronic recording (DER) touch screen or optical scanners, to record their vote for president. (Vihti, 2006). Electronic votes are stored digitally in a storage medium such as a tape cartridge, diskette, or smart card before being sent to a centralized location where tabulation programs compile and tabulate results. Advocates of e-voting point out that electronic voting can reduce election costs and increase civic participation by making the voting process more convenient. Critics maintain that without a paper trail, recounts are more difficult and electronic ballot manipulation, or even poorly-written programme code, could affect election results. (Wahlstift, 2000)
Elections form a critical process in democratic systems and application of information technologies to their management is a great milestone towards realizing effectiveness and efficiency not only in the results of the election process itself but also in the financial implications that come up with the process.
One basic feature of student’s unionism is the right to be able to choose their leaders by themselves through the processes of elections. And one basic feature of democracy that cuts across all divides of people is the act of election. Democracy thus encourages individual freedom according to the rule of law, so that people can behave and express themselves as they choose. This not only gives people the chance to choose their leaders, but also air their views on issues affecting their well–being. For a democratic government, public opinion is the most important determinant to establish a government and voting is the process through which people display their opinion and help to setup a democratic government. So the voting system should be reliable, accurate and above all must be transparent.
In the paper or manual voting system, a voter usually goes to the voting stations known as voting units. After direct person-person verification with some IDs, the voter is allowed to vote. The voter is then given a ballot paper which allows a single vote. Once the ballot paper is used, it cannot be reused. However, this ballot paper must also be anonymous as voters do not need to display their identity. I.e. to say, that the ballot paper must identify the voter as being permitted to vote, but not reveal their actual identity. Traditional polling methods trust a lot of parties during the election.
The various drawbacks of a traditional electioneering system are mainly collusion between the electronic officials and contestants, the queuing time, delayed results, overworked tallying officials and the undeniable fact of human errors. The existing voting system did not provide reliable statistics on voting history in the college and thus campaigners lacked the ground to apply scientific voter forecasting methods resolving to trial and error methodologies which are error prone and inconsistent.
Reinforcing a one voter one vote policy is difficult in such a situation and malpractices as rigging are not uncommon in manual voting system. It is impossible to completely rule out the need for technology and electronic voting, with the growing number of eligible voters and manual ballot papers involved. It was very easy or manageable in the past because, the institution had few numbers of students (eligible voters). But now the numbers of students have increased and have a high possibility of increasing higher, in the nearest future. It was manageable when we had just the NCE program and few courses on the degree program. But as real as it is now, the institution is growing beyond bounds and the manual system of voting which in so many previous Students’ union government (SUG) elections had caused more than a lot of chaos. The institution, Federal college of education (technical) Omoku, having adopted information technology in various fields of her dealings with students, the student union government should also adopt a new system of voting which is the electronic voting (E-voting) system.
Let’s consider the following points on the existing voting system in the student union government (SUG) of Federal College of Education Omoku:
The system that exists currently in Federal college of education (Technical) Omoku student Union Government, is totally paper based and manual, that takes lots of time and the government has to bear the financial expenses for this purpose.
The voters are registered just before the poll so the election commission gets some time in hand for making all the necessary arrangements with in this short period of time. They just add the new voters with the previous voters so that the people who are deceased by this time may be considered as the existing voter if the election committee members are not informed. So people may not see the voter’s list as reliable because it contains numerous fake voters.
Again the authority itself may be corrupted and can allow some fake voters to participate. If any voter stays outside the school premises or misses the registration processes somehow due to prior obligations or unavoidable circumstances, he or she wouldn’t be considered as a voter.
Sometimes people ruin their votes by stamping on two or more signs mistakenly. This is also a drawback of paper based voting system.
While casting the votes the acting officers present in the centers marks a voter with a black ink on his or her nail but it is removable. So there is a high chance of casting illegal votes. (I.e. voting more than one time)
All these problems together inspired the thought of developing a new system that will reduce corruption, increase accuracy and fast paced. The concept of electronic voting system comes from this necessity.
Lets also consider some advantages of the electronic voting (E-voting) system, been the proposed system if implemented.
Online voting (E-voting) systems’ efforts will be geared towards the minimization, if not the total elimination, of the problems associated with manual systems of elections. A number of mechanisms will be introduced to ensure that time and other resources are efficiently used.
Although the initial cost of developing the online voting systems would be high, the long run effects would be that election costs would drastically reduce.
Online voting (E-voting) systems would make obsolete the need for ballot boxes and papers, because the system would simulate these. This would mean that printing costs would be reduced by a considerable amount.
Online voting (E-voting) systems usually tally results as and when votes are cast. This also means that vote counting, which takes a lot of time when done manually, would be eliminated. At the click of a button, results of an election would be displayed.
These and many more are the possible advantages the student union government of federal college of education (technical) Omoku, will get if the proposed online voting system is accepted and implemented.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
The inefficiency of voting process in Nigeria has resulted in a lot of problems. These problems have continued to obstruct the peace of democracy in Nigeria because the choice of a capable candidate is not encouraged by the current system. These problems include:
- High rate of rigging during election process
- Multiple voters
- Inefficient and inaccurate counting of voters by officers concerned.
- Long queues observed at polling stations
- Illegible voters casting their vote
- Lost of votes due to either wrong voting or the case of any accident occurring during transportation of the statement of result and other electoral materials to the collection centers.
1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the study is to Design and Implement an Electronic Voting System using Enugu Independent Electoral as a case study. In achieving this aim, the following specific objectives were set out as follows:
- To design and develop a software platforms for voter registration, election voting, real-time election results collation and monitoring and mostly for voters remote access to elections.
- To design and develop an electronic device that incorporates smart card reader and fingerprints technology for voters accreditation, authentication and verification.
- To design and develop an administration dashboard for the election administrators.
- To execute simulations and compare the results of the designed e-voting system and other voting systems.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The significance of an e-voting system to the society and mostly to Nigeria are outline as follows:
- The study will provide INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) with a means to conduct less costly and fair elections.
- The secure and flexible database management system safeguards data and information to account for credible elections.
- It will serve to reduce the workload in the process of conducting election.
- As it incorporates remote voting individuals can vote from their convenience.
- It will enable INEC reduce the time wasted in collating and announcing election result.
- It will greatly reduce and eliminate disenfranchising electorates.
- It will serve to eliminate invalid votes, curb election violence as votes are counted immediately as they are cast.
This study will also be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is restricted to Design and implementation of Electronic Voting System using Enugu Independent Electoral as a case study.
1.7 Limitations of the study
During the course of this study, many things militated against its completion, some of which are:
- Time Constraint: The time frame given to accomplish this project was very short due to school academic calendar and it was carried out under pressure which made the researcher not to implement some necessary features.
- Establishment Policies: Establishment policies posed a serious limitation as most staffs are not ready to release information needed for this project work. There were lots of information needed from the staffs of this institution to enhance the study which took them time to release or they did not release at all for security purposes, hence the scope was reduced.
- Research material: availability of research material is a major setback to the scope of the study.
- Frequent power failure: This made the researcher append more money on fuel to ensure sustainable power.
- Financial Constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
- Direct-Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting System: Records votes by means of a ballot display provided with mechanical or electro-optical components that can be activated by the voter (typically buttons or a touch screen); that processes data with computer software; and that records voting data and ballot images in memory components
- Paper-Based Electronic Voting System: Paper-based voting systems originated as a system where votes are cast and counted by hand, using paper ballots.
- Information and Communication Technology: This is referred to those technologies that determine the efficiency and effectiveness with which we communicate and the devices that allow us handle information.
- Ballot Paper: Material with which voters used to cast their votes.
- Ballot Box: A container in which voters drop their votes
- Ballot: A vote recorded in an election.
- Collation Centre: A designated location where results are collected.
- Computer: An electronic device that stores data, processes data and produces an output as information.
- Democracy: This is the government of the people for the people and by the people.
- Election: The act of choosing by voting one of the candidates for a position.
- NSIEC: Nigeria State Independent Electoral Commission
- Home Page: The front door to a website. Normally contains links to other sites or pages.
- Poll: The process of voting at an election.
- Poll Station: A centre or venue where voters cast their votes.
- Rigging: To manipulate election result in favour of another person.
- Voter’s Card: This is a card given to a voter to ascertain that he has the right to vote.
- Votes’ Register: This is a register containing the data of eligible voters completed by the election officials.