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.