Gambia plans biometric voter registration

The Gambian Electoral Commission has committed itself to the introduction of a new biometric voter registration system, to be in place before presidential elections in September 2011. Two international companies, CODE Inc from Canada and Zetes from Belgium, have been shortlisted for the contract and are due to conduct a head-to-head mock registration exercise this month.

Gambia is a small country with an electorate of less than one million. Nevertheless it would seem to me to be unrealistic to deploy a new system from scratch in less than eighteen months.

via Senegambia News, 13 Jan 2010

Integrity of Somaliland voter registration system in doubt

Delays in the holding of elections in the Somaliland region of Somalia are being blamed, inter alia, on the failure of a new voter registration system to produce a credible electoral roll.

According to SomalilandPress,

The new electoral commission has a difficult job ahead including clearing the mistakes in the voter registration system. A high-tech biometric technology is being used in the registration; however, the use of such technology was too early for Somaliland due to lack of public awareness and infrastructure in the country. Somaliland is one of the first African countries to use such sophisticated technology to empower democracy.

Moreover, the registration process challenged tribal demography that is sensitive in Somaliland and the region in general, because all tribes wanted to score high in the census. This led many tribesmen to enroll two or three times, which tripled the expected number. The capacity of the server could not process the high number. At this point we can say, modern technology undermined the growing democracy of Somaliland.

The new system, which involves the production of voter and civil ID cards containing both photographs and fingerprints, was introduced in the second half of 2008. The registration campaign, endorsed by both the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, was completed by January 2009.

In reality the registration campaign was beset by problems – both technical and political. A recent report by the International Crisis Group documents these in some detail.

via Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi of SomalilandPress.

Nigeria postpones electronic voting

Amid public expectations of measures to be taken to bolster the credibility of future polls in Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said that it had no expenditure plans in next year’s budget for the much-canvassed electronic voting system. The INEC position, which was expressed by its Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Kaugama, at a session on the defence of its N47.212 billion proposed expenditure in the 2010 budget, came against the backdrop of failed attempts by the Commission to adopt the e-voting system for the 2007 general elections.

The elections were adjudged by international and domestic observers to have been largely flawed. Election Petitions Tribunals and the Court of Appeal sitting in different state capitals had voided a number of electoral mandated that were not properly secured.

Kaugama told the Committee on INEC that the Commission did not consider it necessary to make provision for the e-voting in the 2010 budget. He stated that the Commission has in place a system to transmit election results electronically, adding that the e-voting machine is the only missing component.

via Sufuyan Ojeifo of  This Day on allAfrica.com, 10 Dec 2009

Nigeria Shelves Electronic Voting

The Nigerian House of Representatives has decided that Nigeria cannot afford to adopt electronic voting now because of the high level of illiteracy amongst the electorate, the “challenge of epileptic power” as well as the huge cost implications inherent in the project.

Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon. Musa Adar,  acknowledged that the electronic voting system could enhance transparency in the country’s electoral system, but said the idea should be deferred for ten years by when a reasonable percentage of the voting population would have acquired basic education and computer knowledge.

What is being shelved is the fourth phase of an Electronic Voting System (EVS), in which an Electronic Voters Register has been in operation since 2002 and work is in progress on electronic authentication of voters and the speedy transmission of election results.

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