Move by Liberia to introduce biometrics in 2023 elections meets stonewall
In what looks like a denouement to a long-running standoff related to the introduction of biometrics during Liberia’s 2023 presidential and legislative polls, the National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairperson has stated categorically that the move is now clearly out of the question.
Liberian Observer writes that Davidetta Browne-Lansanah made the stand known during a hearing of the Joint Senate Committee on Autonomous Commission and Agencies and Ways, Means, Finance and Budget which took place on September 19.
A few days earlier, the Senate had mandated the Joint Committee to meet with stakeholders in the electoral process to find common ground on whether to resort to biometrics for the upcoming elections or not.
But reports coming out of the Joint Committee session indicate that the needed consensus has not yet been met.
Reacting to a presentation by the National Identity Registry (NIR) boss during the hearing, the NEC Chair said they will continue to have discussions with the NIR on how to collaborate on the biometric project, but it will not be in place for the 2023 elections, notes the Liberian Observer.
NIR Executive Director J. Tiah Nagbe made his argument for the importance of going ahead with biometrics for the 2023 polls and beyond, making allusion to many other countries around the world that have conducted biometric voting processes at affordable costs.
The motivation to introduce biometrics in Liberia’s electoral process was triggered by concerns about electoral irregularities during the last presidential and legislative elections, and even those before them.
However, the two major stakeholders (the NEC and NIR), who could have made the plan work, have constantly failed to agree on which of the two institutions is better placed to manage the biometric database of voters, as well as over budgetary issues.