A new Electoral Act Amendment Bill which provides for total ban of electronic transmission of votes is to be introduced at the Senate next Tuesday.

This was part of the 121-page document to be laid before the Red Chamber at plenary by Kabir Gaya, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),

The proposed piece of legislation is titled “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Electoral Act No 6, 2010 and enact the Electoral Act 2021, to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory elections, and for related matters”.

But this current draft, is said to be at variance with what was earlier agreed to by the committees of the two chambers of the legislature.

The Gaya Committee is also said to have concluded plans to clear Ms. Laureate Onochie as an INEC national commissioner.

The bill, which has 153 sections, is divided into eight parts including Establishment and function, etc of INEC, Staff of the Commission, National register of Voters and Voters’ education and procedure at election.

Other parts of the bill are political parties, Electoral Offences, determination of election petitions arising from election petitions and Miscellaneous.

The draft bill allowed for voluntary electronic voting by secret ballot but ruled out electronic transmission of the votes cast at the poling units.

This is contained on Page 25 of the document and subtitled procedure at election under Section 50(2) of bill which states: “Voting at an election under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission (INEC) which may include electronic voting provided that the Commission shall not transmit results of election by electronic means”.

According to section. 50 (2) of the new draft, “Voting at an election under this Bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission, which may include electronic voting, PROVIDED that the Commission shall not transmit results of election by electronic means”.

The draft bill further stated that, “Voting at an election under this Bill shall be by open secret ballot” and that “A voter on receiving a ballot paper shall mark it in the manner prescribed by the Commission.

“All ballots at an election under this Bill at any polling station shall be deposited in the ballot box in the open view of the public.

“No voter shall vote for more than one candidate or record more than one vote in favour of any candidate at any one election. (2)Where the number of votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceeds the number of accredited voters in that polling unit, the Presiding Officer shall cancel the result of the election in that polling unit.

“Where the result of an election is cancelled in accordance with subsection (2), there shall be no return for the election until another poll has taken place in the affected polling unit.(4)Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (2) and (3), the Commission may, if satisfied that the result of the election will not substantially be affected by voting in the area where the election is cancelled, direct that a return of the election be made.

“Where a voter makes any writing or mark on a ballot paper by which he or she may be identified, such ballot paper shall be rejected provided that any print resulting from the staining of the thumb of the voter in the voting compartment shall not be or be deemed to be a mark of identification under this section.

“The Commission shall use indelible ink for any thumb mark by voters on ballot papers,” the draft bill stated.