African Election Officials Gather to Discuss Electoral Technology and Security
On April 10, 2018, International Foundation for Electoral Systems Senior Global Electoral Adviser Peter Erben delivered opening remarks on “Raising Trust in Electoral Technology: Innovation Aided by Traditional Approaches” at the “Opportunities and Challenges in the Use of Technology in Elections” conference in Abuja, Nigeria. The conference took place from April 9 through 11, and gathered 150 leaders of 32 election commissions from Africa and beyond and was hosted by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States’ Network of Electoral Commissions, in collaboration with the Electoral Commissions Forum of the Southern African Development Community, with support from the European Centre for Electoral Support and the European Union.
In his presentation, Erben explained that electoral technologies can significantly improve the quality of the electoral process, but only if wisely used to enhance traditional approaches, not as an immediate and wholesale replacement of these; and, that traditional paper-based approaches and electronic systems both have significant advantages and weaknesses. Used together, they mutually reinforce each other, leveraging the significant synergy between the old and the new.
Erben encouraged participants to focus on three recommendations:
- Electoral technology is not a panacea, but if chosen wisely, and combined with sound, proven traditional approaches, can have a positive impact;
- Election management bodies (EMBs) must resist pressure from external actors, especially from vendors and contestants, and carefully approach the notion of having to be “modern”; and
- EMBs must control the process of choosing technologies by tempering it within a mandated, deliberate, transparent and participatory feasibility study.
Read Erben’s remarks.