Gambia Electoral Commission Reports on Biometric Registration Work

Gambia Electoral Commission Reports on Biometric Registration WorkGambia’s Independent Electoral Commission is busily working to prepare the country’s biometric voter registration system.

Appearing before the country’s Public Accounts Committee and Public Enterprise Committee (PAC/PEC), IEC Chairman Alhaji Mustapha Carayol was asked why he came to the meeting without his senior officials, to which he replied that they are in the field working on the biometric registration system. Carayol also confirmed that project costs D33 million, or roughly 843,000USD.

Biometric polling appears to be increasingly popular on the continent, with Guinea having implemented biometric voter enrollment for an election last year, and Uganda preparing for a biometric election next month. Just this week news emerged that Zimbabwe’s electoral commission is also considering the use of biometric polling for a future election. The trend could be part of broader government enthusiasm for biometric solutions, with the many states of the ECOWAS region reportedly considering the implementation biometric ID cards enabling passport-free travel between member countries.

Nevertheless, Gambia’s government is notoriously repressive and antidemocratic, with a previous biometric voter registration system having been manipulated to ensure that the incumbent leader, Yayha Jammeh, remain in power after the country’s 2011 elections. It will be interesting to see whether the IEC’s latest effort will yield greater transparency after it is fully implemented.

Sources: AllAfrica, Freedom House

January 26, 2016 – by Alex Perala