Biometrics to verify voters in Uganda; Zimbabwe and Pakistan evaluating costs, usability

January 24, 2016 - 

Uganda’s electoral commission (EC) is to meet this week to explain its decision to use biometric voter verification in the upcoming general election to representatives of the presidential candidates, political parties and other stakeholders, according to a report in the Voice of America.

Uganda’s EC spokesperson Jotham Taremwa said that, “the deployment of the biometric verification mechanism at all polling stations across the country will significantly boost the credibility of the presidential, legislative and local elections.”

He continued, “For the first time in our history of elections in Uganda, we are going to use biometric voter verification equipment at every polling station. When you come as a voter, the machine identifies you as so and your voting status by using either your thumbprint or a barcode on the back of your national ID [identification] or a barcode on the voter location’s list that we will be issuing at least two weeks before the polling.”

The electoral commission has been asked to provide backup voting machines in case there are malfunctions.

“So far we have received about 17,000 out of over 30,000 machines we require,” Taremwa said. “We have about 1,400 sub-counties in Uganda and each sub-county will have at least two machines that we will used in case there is a technical problem on one of the machines within that sub-county.”

Zimbabwe evaluating biometric voting system

Zimbabwe plans to introduce a biometric voting system as part of its reforms ahead of the 2018 general elections, according to reports in Star Africa.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) plans to engage international experts to assist in the implementation of the biometric voting system.

“The biometric system the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission plans to introduce will scan for either fingerprints or the iris and is already in use in African countries like Kenya and Ghana,” said media reports quoting ZEC spokesperson Justin Manyau.

The official said the commission has, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners, invited several international service providers in biometrics “to carry out demonstrations with the hope of assessing applicability of the technology locally, the cost factor, usability and sustainability of the new technology.”

“Working in collaboration with the UNDP and other cooperating partners, ZEC has engaged consultants in voter registration and voter education to advise on the various options that may be available to the commission,” Manyau said.

Pakistan to give time frame for opening tender

Last week, the Sub-Committee of National Assembly on Electoral Reforms asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to evaluate the usability and cost of 400 electronic voting machines (EVMs) to be installed in a single constituency and overall 300,000 EVMs.

The committee also asked the ECP to give a time frame for an opening tender of electronic voting machines as soon as possible.

Anusha Rehman, the Minister of State for Information Technology, told media that efforts were being made to ensure the use of electronic voting machines for the next general elections and that NADRA has agreed on the steps to secure voters data through biometrics as previously suggested by the IT ministry.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.