The adoption and use of e-voting technologies in major elections remain largely problematic regardless of where they are implemented. This has motivated a number of survey-based empirical studies on determining important factors for e-voting adoption based on existing technology adoption models. However, there is a paucity of studies, which provide deep insights and understanding of core issues involved in e-voting adoption success or failures in different contexts. This article describes an ethnography carried out with the goal to understand factors that support or inhibit e-voting adoption based on detailed data collected during the 2011 Nigerian General Elections. By consolidating existing e-voting adoption models and a multi-level innovation adoption model into an analytical framework, we analysed the observations made by one of the authors as a participant in the adoption and implementation of the e-voting initiative as well as the post-election reports. Our findings are synthesized into a multi-level e-voting adoption model. In addition, we catalog a number of factors that could negatively affect e-voting adoption in a similar environment. Our results contribute to advancing theory building in e-voting adoption while it provides practitioners with a concrete checklist of success factors and barriers for adopting e-voting technologies. © 2017 Elsevier Inc.