Zimbabwe Officials Consider Biometric Polling

Biometric Voter RegistrationThe Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is considering implementing a biometric polling system for the country’s 2018 election. Speaking to a prominent newspaper, a ZEC spokesperson said that the system in consideration will use fingerprint or iris scans, and “is already in use in countries like Kenya and Ghana.”

That suggests the ZEC could be in talks with GenKey, which provided biometric polling technology for Ghana’s District Level Elections last year, though the ZEC official may have been speaking more generally; he also asserted that officials are working with the UNDP and other partners to assess the various options available. In any case, the official indicated that the biometric system would be introduced “among other significant changes to the polling framework,” presumably aimed at greater transparency.

That would be a major step toward democracy for the country, which has suffered from widespread corruption under the decades-long regime of President Robert Mugabe. It would also bring Zimbabwe in step with a number of countries in Africa and beyond that are beginning to embrace biometric polling, both for its administrative efficiency and its reliability. While even more democratic countries like the Philippines have experienced some friction in introducing biometric polling, it would almost certainly be welcomed in the Zimbabwean context as a laudable step forward in terms of transparency and other democratic ideals.

Sources: StarAfrica, The Independent, The Sunday Mail

January 26, 2016 – by Alex Perala