Kyrgyzstan, as I have detailed before, is using a new biometric registration system for voting in the upcoming parliamentary election, scheduled for October 4. The law making registration — which requires submission of a fingerprint, photo and signature — mandatory in order to vote was recently upheld as constitutional by the Constitutional Chamber of Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court. The precise substance of the decision is unknown, but one of the human rights activists, Toktaim Umetalieva, who filed the claim against the mandatory biometrics law told AKIpress that “the decision was made in nobody’s favor in fact. That is, the Chamber recognized [the] constitutionality of the law on biometric registration, but ordered the Parliament to rework the law in terms of a precise formulation of goals and objectives, mechanisms and criteria. In such case the law can be changed significantly.” The court’s decision on the constitutionality of the law was preceded by the summer ousting of the judge originally tasked with the case after she was accused of revealing her views on the biometric data law – that it was unconstitutional – before making her ruling public.
A date for Kyrgyzstan parliamentary election has been set (October 4) and parties are gearing up for the campaign (which starts September 4). The election is much anticipated by regional observers because it should be, unlike most other regional elections, an actual race. The world will also be watching because the country plans to debut the use of a controversial biometric registration program in the election–specifically the use of fingerprints to verify identity before voting. The program is controversial due to concerns about the right to privacy of Kyrgyz citizens and the possible de facto disenfranchisement of any who refuse to submit fingerprints.
Technology played a decisive role in helping Muhammadu Buhari become the first Nigerian to oust a sitting president at the ballot box, from social media campaigning to biometric machines preventing the widespread rigging that marred past polls. Three decades after seizing power in a military coup, part of the 72-year-old former general’s appeal to the electorate in Africa’s biggest economy lay in his successful rebranding as a man who embraced democracy. A good deal of that rebranding happened online, where campaigning from smartphones can build momentum at low cost.
Nigeria’s electoral commission says it has found a means to fight fraud that has marred votes repeatedly in Africa’s most populous nation: technology. While its decision to use biometric voter-card readers in general elections starting March 28 is favored by Muhammadu Buhari’s opposition alliance, President Goodluck Jonathan’s ruling People’s Democratic Party, which has won every election in Africa’s biggest oil producer since the end of military rule in 1999, is crying foul. All of the previous elections were marred by ballot stuffing, multiple and underage voting, and falsification of figures, according to local and international monitors. About 800 people died in violence in 2011 after Buhari lost to Jonathan and said the result was rigged.
Nigeria: What other African elections tell us about Nigeria’s bet on biometrics | The Washington Post
Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy and home to almost 180 million people, will hold elections on March 28, a six-week delay after its initial date. While international commentators focus debate on the Boko Haram crisis and the risk of electoral violence, another novelty in this 2015 election has gone relatively overlooked: the use of new biometric voting technology. Every Nigerian voter is supposed to receive a permanent voter card, which stores biometric information such as fingerprints and facial image. At the polls, the voters will present their cards and a voter card reader will verify their name on the voter roll and the authenticity of the card.