Zimbabwe Making Tentative Progress Toward Biometric Elections

Zimbabwe isn’t going to use biometrics in the country’s 2018 election general election, but is proceeding with a biometric voter registration program, reports The Herald.

Zimbabwe Making Tentative Progress Toward Biometric ElectionsThe clarification comes by way of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, whose chair, Justice Rita Makarau, told The Herald that the biometric registration “is going to assist us to compile a bit more accurate voters’ roll,” and that the actual voting system will be the same one used in recent elections. Citizens who fail to register their biometrics will not be allowed to vote, as they won’t be on the polling stations’ rosters.

Justice Makarau said that the government had received proposals from 12 companies seeking to provide the voter registration technology, and that three will be invited to demonstrate their technologies before the ZEC makes a decision. The government is seeking to enroll eligible voters’ facial and fingerprint biometrics, with the biometric registration project being funded, at least in part, by the United Nations Development Programme.

The country’s longstanding president, 92-year-old Robert Mugabe, will run in next year’s election. His government has committed serious human rights violations and been accused of election tampering; while biometric voter authentication should help to make elections fairer and more transparent, it will evidently have to wait until a future round of elections in Zimbabwe. In the meantime, the ZEC’s biometric registration program should help to build a pathway to such a future.

Sources: The Herald, TechZim, The Huffington Post, Human Rights Watch

January 26, 2017 – by Alex Perala