The election committee have opted for digital card readers to help automated today’s vote. The move has been welcomed and scorned in equal measure. As the ballot begins, how is the technology holding up?
“The card reader machines are not working well,” reported Damsus Henry from Delta State. “The officials don’t even know how it is being used. Half an hour after the vote begins in Rivers State, the machines seems to be causing delays, rejecting people’s PVCs.”
In Bayelsa there are reports from various stations that the card readers are operating, but slowly. Elizabeth Andaebi, Bayelsa, said it was making queues longer than expected but remarked that “the elderly are being given preference.”
In some places, the delay seems to have just been teething trouble as officials got to grips with the technology.
A report at 8am from Isaac Cotterell, Rivers State alerted: “The card reader is dying. People have their PVCs but it is not working perfectly. The card reader isn’t fast and the thumb printer needs to print more than 5 times before it will show. People are not happy.” He reported back an hour later to say: “The card reader is now fast and the securities are on ground. Accreditation is going fine for now.”
For some the process is smoother as a result of the new system. Reporter Okonta Emeka interviewed voter Somi Dikeka, 35, who said she was “happy all is moving on well here. Our people are doing the right thing at Oshimili polling area.”
In Erema, reporter Ahuju Eze James said the card reader hiccups added to a general sense of mistrust of the electoral procedure: “People are finding the card reader process difficult and are worried with the procedure at hand. As many were even unable to collect their PVCs, many are complaining of inadequacy.” This was echoed by Dibiya Michael in Bayelsa State, where he said voters around him were complaining about the inefficiency of the card readers.
In some areas, the glitches have derailed the voting process. In Doris Egba’s polling station “so many cards are been rejected that they are going through a manual process.” In Delta Ward 6 voters were being sent home due to the faults. “The most painful part is being told to come back to vote at 1.30pm” Mary Okobi, interviewed by Damasus Henry, Delta State.