2023 Election results not affected by ‘Glitch’, reflected will of Nigerians – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released its comprehensive report on the 2023 General Election, stating that despite glitches experienced during the upload of presidential election results to its viewing portal, the credibility of the election remains intact.

Addressing the media in Abuja, the commission emphasized that the 2023 general election was characterized by overall peace and orderliness across the nation. However, it acknowledged a significant challenge encountered during the process of uploading Polling Unit (PU) results for the presidential election to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.

The IReV portal, heralded as a crucial innovation to enhance the transparency and integrity of the electoral process, suffered a setback during the upload process on February 25, 2023. This glitch, according to INEC, did not compromise the election’s credibility but sparked widespread commentary and raised concerns.

On Election Day, the commission began to receive reports around 4pm, across the country 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,” the report stated.

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.”

“In the process of resolving the challenge, it was discovered that the backend system of the IReV was able to query and detect the base States for uploading the PU result sheets.”

“Based on the mapping of all Senatorial District and Federal Constituency elections to the respective 36 States of the Federation and the FCT as established in the database structure deployed within the system.”

“In configuring and mapping the election results for the presidential and NASS elections, the Commission created 470 election types consisting of one presidential constituency covering the entire country, 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal Constituencies. Each Senatorial District and Federal Constituency election on the database was mapped to their respective States.”

“However, 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 organisation 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.”

Despite immediate efforts to address the issue, including the deployment of software updates or “hotfixes,” delays ensued, leading to a backlog in result uploads.

INEC clarified that the glitch stemmed from the unique nature of the presidential election constituency, which posed challenges in the system’s mapping process. While other elections such as those for the Senate and House of Representatives proceeded smoothly, the presidential election’s nationwide constituency presented a distinct mapping challenge.

“After the problem with the upload was resolved, the Commission noticed a high volume of uploads on the queue. All results that scanned but could not be uploaded due to the error were queued waiting to be automatically processed.

“Due to the large volume and high traffic from the queue, the system was running slower, even though it tried to scale up automatically to handle the unanticipated heavy traffic. The density of the traffic that slowed the uploads was one issue. Another was that the offline queue requires the BVAS devices to be switched-on and connected to the internet for the upload.”

“However, some of the POs had at the time left their PUs, and the devices had either been switched-off, or were out of internet coverage. Switched-off devices could not connect and upload the results sheets.