Nigerian States begin biometric registration for voters, stalemate persists in Liberia
Nigeria’s Lagos and Osun States have begun biometric data collection within the framework of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise which the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) launched last month.
INEC authorities in Osun have also said they will use the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to expunge irregular registrants from the voters roll.
These developments come as disagreement among stakeholders drags on in Liberia over the planned introduction of a biometric voting system for the country’s 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Biometric capture begins in Lagos
A spokesman of INEC in Lagos told reporters that the process of physical capture of biometric information for pre-enrolled potential voters kicked off on Monday at the main INEC office in Yaba and in all offices in the 20 Local Governments of the State, Leadership reports.
The outlet quotes Femi Akinbiyi as urging all those who have already registered online to present themselves at INEC centers for their biometric enrollment, saying the offices will be open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm local time.
“Now that the physical registration in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) has commenced, we want all Lagos residents that have applied online to come down for their biometrics,” the INEC spokesman urges.
He encouraged all those who can do the pre-registration online to go ahead, but for those who are unable, Akinbiyi called on them to show up at any INEC office in-person where they can also get their biometrics enrolled at the same time, per Leadership.
ABIS to delist irregular voters in Osun
In Osun, INEC officials say they will put in place an Automated Biometric Identification System to clear the voters roll in the State of double or fraudulent entries.
According to Daily Post, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner Olusegun Agbaje was speaking during a press conference recently to unveil a revised calendar for the Continuous Voter Registration exercise in the State.
Rescheduled biometric capture was slated to begin July 26, and the activity will run till May 2022, just a few weeks before electors go the polls to choose a new State Governor, Daily Post notes. The official said this long period will allow INEC the time to print voter cards for those who are registered in time for the Governorship election billed for July 16, 2022.
Agbaje also gave assurances that INEC has mobilized all resources, including the deployment of INEC Voters Enrollment Devices to all the 30 Local Governments of the State, and called on citizens of the State who have attained legal voting age to turn up for the exercise.
He also called on State residents to guard against multiple registration, underage registration or registration by non-citizens.
Liberia stakeholders still differ on biometric voting system implementation
The country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the National Identification Registry (NIR) are said to be at loggerheads over who can better oversee the implementation of a biometric voting system ahead of the 2023 elections in the country.
According to Front Page Africa (FPA), the disagreement appears to be on two fronts: the budget proposed by each of the bodies and then claims of technical expertise.
Front Page Africa writes that while the NEC is presenting a budget of U.S. $24 million for the biometric system to cover three million voters, the NIR is proposing about $9 million less than this amount (US$15 million).
Appearing before the Senate Joint Committee on Autonomous Commission and Agencies and Ways, Means and Finance recently, the heads of both houses put forth their arguments, FPA notes.
While NEC boss Davidetta Browne-Lansanah argued that NIR data has not been tested and certified by the government and hence may lead to credibility issues during the election, the NIR head Teah Nagbe for his part told the Joint Committee the agency can better implement the biometric system since it has been in charge of producing the country’s national ID cards. Nagbe added that NIR can provide technical assistance to NEC since the latter has never carried out any biometric voting activity.
Liberia’s NEC appears poised to implementation the biometric voter system as it believes the process will reduce election irregularities and enhance the credibility of the polls.
Less than two weeks ago, the Senate Joint Committee told NEC to review its budget for the 23 polls, suggesting the country doesn’t even have the financial wherewithal to implement a biometric voter registration system at the moment.
Meanwhile, a report by New Dawn Liberia quotes Browne-Lansanah as reiterating the need to transition from the Optical Mark Recognition voter registration system to a biometric voter registration system in order to rid the electoral process of certain irregularities.
While regretting that “Liberia is the only country in Africa that still uses the Optical Mark Recognition system of voter registration,” she said the biometric voter system, though expensive, would eventually save cost in future elections if properly put in place.