The election roadmap is facing a stumbling block due to a court issue over the software required to ensure legitimacy during the voting process. Laxton Group Ltd won the tender to supply the BVR kits that have been used during the voter registration process. Laxton Group argue that ZECs decision to award the de-duplication tender to IPSIDY could compromise the fairness of elections and they feel they are in the best position to provide the de-duplication service since they handled the registration that comes before de-duplication. We don’t know why ZEC decided to award different companies the respective tenders. Laxton supplied the kits that were used for registration. The next important step has been taken away from Laxton and awarded to a different company Ipsidy. Laxton says this may comromise the new voters’ roll.
biometric voter registration
Somalia: Somaliland 1st in World to Use Iris Scanner Technology to Stem Voter Fraud | teleSUR English
Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia, was the guinea pig for iris-recognition technology at a presidential poll, according to election spokesman Saed Ali Muse. The self-declared sovereign state became the first in the world to use the scanners, which is the world’s most sophisticated voting register. Somaliland’s implementation of iris recognition devices follow incidents involving duplication of voters and other alleged fraud and logistic problems dating back to the 2008 elections.
Long queues were the order of the day as Kenyans took to the polls Tuesday to vote in a hotly contested national election, pitting current president Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party against former prime minister Raila Odinga’s Nasa party. Voters started queueing as early as 2am, according to Caroline Kantai, presiding officer at Moi Avenue Primary School. Polling centres officially opened at 6am. Some centres opened late due to poor weather conditions, the delayed arrival of voting materials and problems with the Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS), which verify voters’ biometric information. Kantai said some polling stations had problems verifying biometrics because voters’ fingers were sweaty or oily, or because “the machine just failed for one reason or the other”. In cases like these, polling clerks verified voters’ identities manually, using their identification documents.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has barred the Zimbabwe Political Parties Dialogue Forum (ZPPDF) from partaking in the Biometric Voter Registration kit testing pilot project. ZPPDF is a technical partner of the opposition National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) coalition. The forum had written to ZEC, asking to be allowed to participate in the BVR testing pilot project. Last week ZEC engaged political parties and civil society organisations that deal with elections where the electoral body announced that it was going to test the feasibility of the BVR.
Elections present a milestone beyond which countries either strengthen their democratic credentials or become failed states. Often states fail when there are either perceived or blatant election malpractices. This in turn can lead to prolonged civil unrest.
Numerous cases exist across the continent. But I will use the Kenyan case to illustrate how election processes can be compromised, and then brought back from the brink with the use of technology. Following the election in 2007 Kenya erupted into two months of unprecedented conflict. People were unhappy with the outcome which saw Mwai Kibaki of the incumbent Party of National Unity being declared the winner ahead of Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement. Many disputed the final tally. To preempt a similar situation in future elections, a commission led by former South African judge Justice Johann Kriegler was set up. The Kriegler Commission made several critical findings. These included instances of double voter registration, widespread impersonation and ballot stuffing. It concluded that, as a result, it was impossible to know who actually won the election.
When the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that the country was going to adopt Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system for use in the 2018 harmonised elections most of those that have known the Government of Zimbabwe found this overture to be too good to be true. Coming as it did — a good 30 months ahead of the elections — after minimum lobbying by civic society organisation (CSOs), many became suspicious about this concession that was being readily granted by a government that was intransigently resisting effecting a raft of electoral reforms that opposition parties have been demanding. At the time, some members of these CSOs had told the Financial Gazette that the readiness with which government was willing to let go the “golden” Tobaiwa Mudede-compiled voters’ roll showed that either the ruling party strategists had identified horse and cart loopholes that could be exploited to ZANU-PF’s electoral advantage or it was just a strategy to buy time so that it could plead poverty and shortage of time on the eleventh hour when the only option left would be to revert to the tested old voters’ roll.
Zimbabwe’s opposition parties put on a show of unity Wednesdays, where they marched through the streets of Harare, demanding transparency and the disbanding of the state-appointed electoral commission they accuse of hindering free-and-fair elections. Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was among those marching, singing and demanding accountability from the country’s electoral commission, despite heavy police presence. Efforts to derail Wednesday’s march, proved unsuccessful as opposition parties put on a force of unity as they demanded the disbandment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which they declared lacked “impartiality and independence.”
Opposition political parties have added their voice to growing calls for the abandonment of biometric voter registration (BVR) amid concerns the system could be prone to manipulation by hostile nations and untenable due to the country’s low Internet penetration. Lawyers and academics were the first to raise the red flag over the implementation of BVR last week, saying electronic voting could create challenges that may be used to discredit the electoral process. Opposition parties share similar sentiments. Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) leader Mr Elton Mangoma called for the abandonment of the process.
Zimbabwe must not rush to implement nationwide biometric voter registration (BVR) before a pilot project, given the threat of hacking on technological infrastructure and the financial pitfalls that could plague the process, political analysts have warned. The analysts noted that developed countries like France had since cancelled electronic voting, while Kenya and Ghana that conducted it went through serious challenges that spawned disputed outcomes. The analysts spoke in the wake of a spirited call from opposition parties for the introduction of electronic voter registration and voting, which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has since started putting in motion.
The Zimbabwe biometric voter registration (BVR) system is expected to be fully functional in March 2017 as part of a broader plan to utilise ICT in the running of the country’s general elections, scheduled for July 2018. The BVR system will be used during registration and voting. Amid allegations of fraudulent voter registration and ballot stuffing, the local opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) has expressed concern over the security of the infrastructure and the sluggish pace of the implementation of the BVR system.