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Papua New Guinea, Kurdistan prepare for biometric elections; Guyana takes a pause

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections
Papua New Guinea, Kurdistan prepare for biometric elections; Guyana takes a pause

Biometric voter registration systems have been gaining ground in countries around the world – but still remain a point of contention in tense political environments.

Papua New Guinea has outlined a plan to establish an ID system relying on biometric data that will help it prepare for the 2027 general elections.

Prime Minister James Marape said that the initial step will be completing the National Census in 2024. The data gathered during the census will be used for identification through the National Identification (NID) program, paving the way to the implementation of a biometric voting system, local news outlet PNG Facts reports.

The island nation has been struggling with electoral fraud with previous elections marked by violence and insecurity. The Papuan government has already made promises for a comprehensive census in 2023 while Prime Minister Marape has floated the idea of instituting an India-style electronic voting system utilizing biometrics.

Kurdistan prepares for ballots

The Iraqi region of Kurdistan is also preparing to introduce a biometric voter registration system.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced that from December 1, 2023 to March 6 of this year, 10810 biometric cards were distributed in the Kurdistan Region while over 109,000 people completed biometric registration. The commission has extended the deadline for registration until March 10, media outlet Kurdistan24 reports.

Kurdistan’s political parties approved the biometric voter registration system in March 2023. The region is currently preparing for parliamentary elections in June.

Guyana will not allocate funds for biometric voting

Guyana, on the other hand, is taking the opposite approach: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira announced that the South American country will not allocate any funds in its 2024 budget for biometric equipment.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) received 3.5 billion Guyanese dollars (US$16.7 million) from this year’s budget. The Commission, however, has not yet decided whether it will use biometrics in local elections meaning that it will not allocate any funds for implementing such a system, Teixeira says. A recourse for additional funds can be made via a supplementary request, local newspaper Kaieteur News reports.

Implementing biometrics in voting has been the source of contention in the country after its controversial 2020 general elections.

While the opposition’s candidate for the Elections Commission Vincent Alexander has attempted to compel the agency to consider the use of biometrics against voter fraud, GECOM’s leaders have come against the proposition, arguing it would prevent people from exercising their constitutional right to vote. GECOM’s Chairperson Claudette Singh has claimed that introducing biometrics would require constitutional reform.

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