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Kenya receives biometric voter registration kits


Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced that the first of its biometric voter registration kits have arrived. The IEBC says training of registration clerks will immediately follow the arrival.

The arrival this week of the first batch of the voter registration equipment, though a small fraction of the units expected before the start of voter registration in November, is nonetheless a significant step before the election scheduled for next March.

Biometric voter registration captures fingerprints and facial features so that the voter will be uniquely identified during voting. The process seeks to ensure that all those who enrol themselves for elections are entitled to vote, and to vote only once. While Kenya is using electronic voter registration, it has not yet opted to use electronic balloting.

Voters in the next March election will still require ballot papers to mark and drop into ballot boxes; they will not be tapping an electronic gadget to make their choices. Nonetheless, the system paves the way for electronic voting in the future.

The mobile biometric voter enrolment kits comprise of digital cameras, fingerprint scanners and power-back-up systems. In addition to facial features and fingerprints, the system will also capture personal information such as names, gender and ID numbers.

The purchase agreement for biometric voter registration hardware and software made between the Kenyan government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) and signed in September. A down payment of 40 percent was made in early October 5, allowing for the supply of 15,000 biometric voter registration kits and a back-end system.

The order and deployment of the system was delayed due to slow bank/government negotiation over the financing facility needed to supply the equipment. The delay is expected to slow the roll out of the new voting registration technology.

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