Nigeria suspends biometric voter registration June 30, to improve ABIS system
The chairman of Nigeria’s National Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has announced that the biometric Continuous Voter Registration exercise ongoing in the country will end on June 30, 2022. The exercise started on June 28, 2021.
Speaking in a meeting with civil society organizations in Abuja recently, Yakubu also disclosed that the electoral body is seriously working to make improvements to the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) used for voter identification and accreditation, The Nigerian Observer reports.
The outlet quotes the INEC boss as saying they have decided to suspend online pre-enrollment in the next three weeks to allow all those who have taken appointments for biometric capture at physical centers, to be able to do so before the June 30 deadline.
Yakubu says ending the registration in time will enable the INEC have time to clean the registration database and print out Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) well ahead of time for the 2023 general elections in Africa’s biggest democracy. Recently, INEC earlier said it had detected more than one million invalid entries in the registration database.
Concerning the ABIS, the INEC chairman said the functionality of the system has been reviewed after a series of complaints from various quarters regarding some shortcomings. He assured that efforts are underway to improve how it works and prevent major system failures when it is deployed for governorship elections in the State of Ekiti on June 18.
The ABIS was introduced by INEC as a two-factor authentication alternative for Card Readers which were known to often fail during voter accreditation processes in past elections. The system uses both fingerprint and face biometrics to accredit voters, but it has also come under criticisms for failures in some elections recently.
The Nigerian Observer cites a civil society actor who spoke on behalf of the civil society groups at the meeting as encouraging INEC to do more in order to avoid irregularities and ABIS failures during the upcoming Ekiti polls.
Zimbabwean province may lose constituencies for low biometric voter numbers
The province of Matabeleland South in Zimbabwe could lose parliamentary seats in the delimitation exercise by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) after registering just 5,000 people during the second phase of a biometric voter registration which officially ended in April.
Chronicle narrates that in the first phase of the exercise, the province enrolled just about 3,700 people, with issues such as a lack of ID card possession by residents cited as one of the reasons for the low numbers.
According to ZEC statistics referred to by Chronicle, Matabeleland South province has the second lowest number of overall voters (259,689) after Bulawayo with 254,630. The outlet also quotes a provincial official who expresses regrets about the low numbers and says the risk of losing constituencies could be minimal if people keep registering.
The second phase of the biometric registration ended at the close of April, but ZEC said its provincial and district offices will remain open to continue registering potential voters.