Why IReV failed during 2023 presidential election – INEC

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Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has clarified the technical issue with the result viewing portal (IReV) during the February 2023 presidential election.

The reported “HTTP error” stemmed from a configuration bug, as detailed in the post-mortem report released on the first anniversary of the election. This bug was identified after polling unit presiding officers faced difficulties uploading results for the National Assembly elections.

The election ultimately saw Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) emerge as the winner, with Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party in second place and Peter Obi of the Labour Party in third.

“In configuring and mapping the election results for the presidential and NASS elections,” the report sighted by The Cable reads, “the Commission created Four Hundred and Seventy (470) election types consisting of one presidential constituency covering the entire country, 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal Constituencies.”

The report further noted, “Each Senatorial District and Federal Constituency election on the database was mapped to their respective States.”

It, however, noted that the presidential election result “is a single, countrywide constituency and therefore, does not belong to any one State.

“Consequently, while the uploads for the NASS elections succeeded as the application was able to identify the respective State and build the folder hierarchy for the results organization process for the election, attempts to upload the presidential election results sheets, which does not belong to or mapped to any State on the database, failed.

“Instead, it returned a HTTP server error response. This failure is attributable to the inability of the application to create and build a folder structure to organize the uploaded images of the result sheets of the presidential election.”
Narrating the IReV problem, the INEC in its report, said it was first reported at 4 pm on Election Day and was partially resolved in four hours.

The commission admitted that it was a key challenge that “impacted on the public perception” of the election and elicited “widespread commentary across the country”.

INEC said, “To begin with, it is important to note that the IReV portal is one of the most significant innovations introduced by the Commission prior to the 2023 General Election to promote the integrity and transparency of the electoral process. As a public-facing website, the IReV portal shows the images of the original Polling 

“The operational methodology and the concept behind the upload of results to the IReV for public viewing is quite simple. At the end of polls, Polling Unit results (Form EC8As) are scanned and uploaded to the IReV by the Presiding Officer(s). These results are then available for viewing to the public and all stakeholders.

The system, which was first deployed during Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election in August 2020 and tested in 105 subsequent elections, including three (3) off-cycle governorship elections, has tremendously improved public confidence in the integrity and transparency of the Commission’s result management process.

“The challenge of uploading the PU presidential election results on the IReV after the presidential and NASS elections on 25th February 2023 was unique. As voting ended across the country and POs began the process of uploading the images of the PU result sheets of the elections for the various constituencies around 4:00pm, the Commission began to receive reports that attempts to upload presidential election result sheets was failing.

“Following these reports, the Commission immediately engaged with its field officials for details in order to understand, and trace the origin, source, scale and magnitude of the problem across the result management ecosystem to devise appropriate solutions.

“In the troubleshooting process, it was established that there was no issue in uploading the PU result sheets of the Senate and House of Representatives elections through the Election Result Modules. However, there was a problem with uploading the presidential election results to the system.

“Attempts to upload the results were generating internal server errors, which refer to a significant impairment that usually originate from within an application due to problems relating to configuration, permissions, or failure to create or access application resources correctly.

“Further interrogation of the Election Result Modules indicated that the system is encountering an unexpected configuration problem in mapping the presidential election results uploaded into the system to the participating Polling Units.

“Due to the complex, sensitive and critical nature of the systems and the real potential for malicious cyberattacks, the Commission immediately put in place several strict security and audit control measures to prevent any unfettered or elevated access to the Result Upload System.”

The commission said after identifying the source of the problem, it quickly created and deployed “hotfixes” — software updates for fixing a bug or any vulnerabilities in a system.

The deployed hotfixes eventually resolved the HTTP error on the system “and the first presidential election result sheet was successfully uploaded at 8.55 pm on the 25th of February 2023,” it said.

While rating itself high, INEC stated in the report.

“Yet, the 2023 General Election produced the most diverse outcome in recent Nigerian electoral history in terms of party representation in executive and legislative elections nationwide. Thus, four (4) political parties produced State Governors, seven (7) secured Senatorial seats, eight (8) won federal constituencies and nine (9) in State seats,” the report said.

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About the Author: Olusola Sorinmade

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