The real issue in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria was the use of the smart card reader. The smart card reader was a critical component in the elections. It was used for the first time in the electoral process of Nigeria and it remains one of the greatest technological innovations of the 2015 general elections. The smart card reader is a technological device setup to authenticate and verify on Election Day a Permanent Voter Card (PVC) issued by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The fundamental basis for the deployment of the technologically-based device by INEC was to ensure a credible, transparent, free and fair election in order to deepen Nigeria’s democracy. However, the use of the card reader generated debate among the election stakeholders before, during and after the 2015 general elections. One of such debates was the legality for the use of the device. This paper therefore examines the debate and the role of the card reader in the 2015 general elections. The paper also looks at the challenges and impact of the card reader on the election. The paper argued that considering the massive electoral fraud witnessed in general elections since Nigeria’s independence, the card reader should be used for future elections. Consequently, subsequent general elections in Nigeria should gradually continue to be technologically driven.
Keywords: democracy, election, electoral democracy, electoral fraud, smart card reader, permanent voter card, technology
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