I could see that the card readers were programmed to work with only PVC issued by INEC and customized for each location. We tried to verify my PVC duly issued by INEC but meant for another location, it did not work.The scanning process takes less than 5 seconds to execute in almost all cases l observed. However, the biometric verification takes much longer as all ten fingers may have to be tested, in quite a number of cases, before the reader verifies it. Often it completely fails to verify the biometric DNA after all ten have been tested. As at about 11.00am, after some 3.30hrs of operation, the potency of the battery on most of the card readers I observed was at some 80% unused. The fear of battery failure or inadequacy is perhaps not something to worry unduly about. I did not notice a single card reader as having failed or malfunctioned during use for the period I made my observations. However, the incidence of the card failure to capture the biometric data easily or devoid of repeated trials appeared to be too high and may pose considerable delays in the verification processes on Election Day. I noticed that turn out of voters to be part of the test-run exercise was very low. Perhaps publicity was poor, voter education and mobilization, particularly by the parties, INEC and CSO, were lacking. May be also, it being not the real thing, voters were not too eager to participate. The sub-division of polling units to decongest those already bloated in excess of the allowable 500 plus, which necessitates the split of its register into three or more voting points, also caused much confusion in voters’ ability to locate their unit. It was reassuring to note that each reader holds a tally of all voters it has verified, including those that have failed one test or another and those with one incidence or another. I was informed that if today were the Election Day, the tally will be relayed the INEC server as is. It seemed that election officials, e.g. polling agents, supervisors, party agents, election monitors, police, security personnel, including the bomb detection squads, were too many, making the environment crowded. But then, this was a test-run of event of an instrument that INEC believes will confer greater credibility and integrity of the electoral process at one tiny corner of the bustling city of Kano.I came away with my expectations of the integrity and sanctity of the electoral process as having been greatly enhanced. During the election proper, if conducted in accordance with what I have observed, I feel reassured that measures have been put in place to facilitate and ensure that when votes are cast they will actually count.
Awwal Yadudu, Kano
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