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Sierra Leone to use biometric voter registration


Sierra Leone will be using biometric registration for the first time in its upcoming presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in November.

The country’s National Electoral Commission decided on the use of the new system of registration.

Registrants will have a picture taken and provide their thumbprints. This information will be used to make sure that there are no duplicated voters and ensure the integrity of the country’s voter registry.

This is a new process for Sierra Leone with the goal to uphold the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ by seeking to avoid duplicated registration.

“Credible elections start with credible voter registration”, remarked Dr. Christiana Thorpe, chief of the Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission, during a presentation at Africa Research Institute in London in July 2011.

Rather than manually registering voters before each election, biometrics enable creation of a permanent electronic register that can be updated as new voters become eligible.

The system captures unique data – thumbprints and facial features – in addition to personal details, and can identify whether someone has registered more than once by centrally matching thumbprints.

The Electoral Commission decided to adopt the system to improve the integrity and transparency of the country’s electoral process. Sierra Leone is still recovering from a civil war that ended a decade ago.

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