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Biometric voter rolls at different stages in Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria

From policy proposals to online pre-registration

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Papua New Guinea’s Electoral Commission (PNGEC) is seeking approval to begin identifying and verifying potential voters with a new biometric system ready for rollout ahead of the elections in the country next year, Loop reports.

This announcement comes at a time when Nigeria is hoping its recently-resumed online Continuous Voter Registration process will enable accurate capture of biometric data, and as a Zimbabwe opposition politician has called for transactions such identity verification and voter registration to move online, according to different reports by Leadership and Pindula News respectively.

Machines available for biometric voter verification in PNG

The PNGEC has already acquired 120 machines to begin the process in 89 electorates starting with the capital city Port Moresby.

Loop quotes Acting Commissioner Simon Sinai as saying there are plans for more machines to be acquired so that the exercise can be extended to all of the country’s 331 local level governments ahead of the elections next year.

“We will start on a smaller scale,” he says. “In Port Moresby, we got the machines to do it and we have tested it and we are confident to do verification and identification of voters and issuing of ID cards to the voters in the city, Lae, Madang, Rabaul, Kokopo, maybe Mount Hagen, and all those big areas in a smaller scale.”

Sinai added that the biometric system will enable the electoral body to build a voter roll that contains photos of voters, and can also capture photos for instant production of voter ID cards. On approval, he hopes the system becomes the mainstay for future elections in PNG.

Nigeria online registration could ease biometric data capture

Nigeria resumed its Continuous Voter Registration process on June 28, with potential voters expected to carry out the pre-registration online only, for the time being.

Among those who have welcomed the move is local civil society organization Yiaga Africa, which has urged Nigerians to show up massively for the exercise, saying it believes the new system will help enhance the process of capturing the data and biometrics of registrants, Leadership writes.

A statement issued by Cynthia Mbamalu, Yiaga Africa’s director of programs, states thatwith the proposals for more technology to be deployed in Nigeria’s election, this CVR process presents an opportunity for the accurate capture of voters’ data and biometrics.”

Yiaga Africa says because voter registration is one of the most important activities of any electoral process, instituting online pre-registration will trigger a huge turnout and also help reduce stress at physical registration centers.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), at the close of June, announced that just over 57 million people have so fared registered for the national identification Number (NIN), according to The Guardian.

A nationwide NIN-SIM card linkage drive was launched in December, but authorities say only about a quarter of the estimated 200 million citizens has secured the biometric digital ID.

The Guardian quoted NIMC Director General Aziz Aliyu as stressing the importance of a digital ID system, and reiterated the need to intensify birth registration which has been transitioned from an analog to a digital system. The official said accurate birth registration will not only help in economic and development planning, but the data can, in the future, help in crime prevention.

Premium Times reports that the deadline for NIN-SIM integration has been extended for the sixth time by the federal government. The new data, it says, is July 29, changes from June 30. NIMC also said a total of 5,410 enrollment systems were now available in the country for continuation of the exercise.

Zimbabwe opposition wants digital ID, passport services online

In Zimbabwe, opposition politician and leader of the MDC Alliance, Nelson Chamisa, says instituting ‘smart policies’ that will see the migration of certain services online, will enhance the country’s digital transformation drive.

Local news portal Pindula News writes that this proposal is contained in a document released recently by Chamisa’s party. The document is said to detail some of the party’s development priorities in the domain of digital technology.

Among other things, Chamisa said his party has a vision for expanding the range of digital services especially in government, health, education, accounting, engineering and the financial sector.

“Queues are evidence of inefficiency and failure. Zimbabwe needs a great reset,” Chamisa stated. “Citizen identity registration and voter registration must be done online, digital, biometric automatic and a right. A digitized citizens’ database is key.”

Chamisa said if the MDC Alliance were to take power, it would ensure online visa applications, online passport application, online voter registration, online access to ID cards, births and deaths registration certificates.

The document also mentions that the MDC will integrate blockchain technologies in areas such as identity management, finance and banking, asset registration, crypto assets and revenue collection.

The outlet notes that this announcement by the MDC is coming at a time when the issuance of ID documents in Zimbabwe is facing huge challenges as citizens are forced to either pay more because of corruption or wait longer to obtain them.

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