The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) has confirmed that the recent National General Elections recorded the highest ever voter turnout, with 89.93% of all registered voters casting their ballot. “This is a great success for the SIEC and for our country as a whole,” Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu said. “I would like to acknowledge everyone who made the effort to get to their polling station on Election Day and exercise their democratic right.” In the 2010 National General Election, voter turnout was just 52.4%, though the Commission says that figure does not take into account the large number of multiple registrations and deceased persons that were on the roll prior to the introduction of Biometric Voter Registration. The SIEC says the voter turnout figure compares favourably with other countries in the region. “In the Fijian National Election earlier this year, voter turnout was 83.97%and in the New Zealand National Election turnout was 78.96%,” Mr Haununu said.
biometric voter registration
The government of Somaliland asked Notre Dame computer science professor Kevin Bowyer with graduate students Amanda Sgroi and Estefan Ortiz to use their iris recognition biometric research to improve the legitimacy of their elections. Somaliland is a self-declared independent state directly north of Somalia recognized by the international community and U.S. as an autonomous region of Somalia. According to a College of Engineering press release, it is transforming into a rare, multiparty democracy in the Horn of Africa and is working to establish honest, respected elections. “Someone in Somaliland sent me an e-mail asking me to help with improving their voting register,” Bowyer said. “They said they wanted to use iris-recognition technology and asked us for help. The ultimate goal is that you can only vote one time,” Sgroi said. “If you’re trying to vote a second time, then the iris recognition system is going to block you before you can even cast your ballot.”
Political parties under the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) have proposed electoral reforms in order to enhance the electoral system. The political parties comprised those with representations in parliament such as the National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party, People’s National Convention and the Convention People’s Party, as well those with no parliamentary representations. Speaking at the IEA National Stakeholder Workshop on electoral reforms in Accra Dr Ransford Gyampo, a Senior Research Fellow at IEA and Coordinator of GPPP, said two workshops were held for the political parties by the IEA as part of its commitment to deepen Ghana’s democracy.
Less than two weeks since the introduction of a biometric voter registration system in Solomon Islands there are allegations of electoral fraud. Transparency Solomon Islands says it’s already received reports of widespread vote rigging ahead of the national election later this year. TSI’s chief executive Daniel Fenua says there is anecdotal evidence of candidates taking possession of scores of ID cards. He says the cards are purcahsed from individual voters.
Solomon Islands Opposition leader Dr Derek Sikua has called on the Government to make every effort to immediately allocate funds to the National Electoral Commission for the commencement of the biometric voter registration next Thursday. Biometric voter registration to be introduced at the upcoming national general election at the end of this year is a highly advanced biometric information system designed to address the need of a robust and secure voter registration and identification system. Dr Sikua made the call after learning that the proposed commencement of the biometric voter registration on Thursday 27, 2014 would be delayed till March due to government funding problem.
Namibia is planning to use a biometric voter registration system for its upcoming election and the country’s electoral commission has just launched the machine it will be using to enroll voters. According to a report in The Namibian, the machines were manufactured in South Africa, and consist of a laptop, fingerprint scanner, camera and signature and barcode scanner. Voter registration starts on January 15 and ends on March 2 next year. Altogether there are 904 machines as well as generators and back-up kits for emergencies.
A new and improved voter registration system has been launched yesterday. Called the Biometric Voter Registration, the system is expected to solve problems normally faced during voting such as double voting and or voting on other people’s names. The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission held the launching at the National Museum to mark the start of the Biometric Voters Registration Campaign. The ceremony was attended by the chairman of the SIEC, Sir Allen Kemakeza, Opposition leader Dr, Dereck Sikua, Permanent Secretary of Home affairs, Mr. Fred Fakarii and Representatives. Chief Electoral Officer Polycarp Haununu said the Electoral Commission will undertake a nationwide registration of eligible electors using the new system, starting from January to March 2014. “This is part of strengthening of the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands,” Mr Haununu said. He said the commission has taken the “bold decision” to replace the current voters list with a list to be compiled using the Biometric technology, in the face of advancing ICT and emerging challenges in voter registration in the Solomon Islands. “In the past years, registrations of voters were captured manually which sometimes not accurate and takes up a lot of time. With the use of this system, it will be simple fast and reliable.”
Campaigning for parliamentary and local elections is officially underway in Cameroon, amid controversy over the alleged fabrication and buying of fake voter cards ahead of the September 30 poll. Loudspeakers placed at strategic locations and in populous neighborhoods of Cameroon’s capital blare campaign messages by 35 political parties running in council and parliamentary elections this month. This message by one opposition party, the National Union for Democracy and Progress, promises to unite the country and keep it out of conflict. Meanwhile, Denis Kemlemo, a candidate with the main opposition Social Democratic Front, tells VOA he will focus on reviving the economy. “Our economy is failing due to the adoption of unrealistic budgets, absence of true social justice and snail pace development. It is for this reason that we are begging for your support during these upcoming parliamentary and council elections to help bring the change that we desperately need,” he said. But the campaigns have been overshadowed by a simmering controversy over voter registration.
The Election Commission is looking into replacing the indelible ink with a biometric system as proposed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim. Its deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said amendments to the laws must be made if it were to scrap the use of indelible ink. “We are still scrutinising the matter internally,” he said, adding that the biometric system should be more suitable for Malaysia as it was at the forefront of digital as well as information and communication technology. He pointed out that the national registry system and MyKad were among the best in the world.
Tanzania held its first multi-party General Election in 1995 and subsequent elections in 2000, 2005 and 2010, voters registration is among thorny issues that political parties and other stakeholders have complained about. At present, official statistics availed by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) show that there are some 20 million registered voters on the Permanent National Voters Register (PNVR) in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar out of the total population of about 45 million. Cases of missing names of eligible voters, appearance of names of people long known to be dead as well as minors on the voters’ register, are among issues that have touched raw nerves of politicians and concerned citizens of this country. There were also some incidents where voters deliberately registered more than once.