March 7, 2013 -
Malawi is set to join the growing list of countries deploying a biometric voter registration system for its upcoming elections.
According to a report in Nyasa Times, a statement from the Malawi Electoral Commission says the biometric system was decided on, following consultations with all stakeholders on the voter registration solution.
The country is opting for the biometric system, as it has historically faced considerable issues in maintaining a clean voter registry, ensuring votes are accurately counted and that others don’t vote more than once.
Registration will now include fingerprinting, and a digital photograph for positive identity verification. Registered voters will also be issued a voter identity card.
Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, biometric verification and enrollment systems are increasingly being turned to for establishing a voter registry, and in particular, in Africa, these systems are becoming quite common. Despite their growing adoption, recent elections in the continent have proven arduous and controversial with the new technology.
In Kenya, an already violent and brutal election day was made much worse by failing biometric verification machines and extremely long lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots. It’s been four days since the election, and Kenyans still don’t know the result, as the votes must now be counted manually.
Last December, Ghanaians also took to the polls using a biometric system. In that instance too, failing technology was responsible for delays, as well as confusion and protest, after the fact. As a result of the delays caused by the biometric machines in Ghana, many voters had to return the following day to cast their ballot.