EC to Use National Register if Biometrics Fail

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In short
Electoral Commission says it will revert to the national voters register should the Biometric Voters Verification System-BVVS fail to work in next months polls.

Electoral Commission says it will revert to the national voters' register should the Biometric Voter's Verification System-BVVS fail to work in next month's polls. On Tuesday, Electoral Commission unveiled the Biometric Voter's Verification System, which will be used to verify the particulars of voters.

Voters will be required to present a voter's location slip or national identity card that will be scanned through a laser to retrieve their details. The voter will be asked to place his/her finger on the machine for verification. 

Pontius Namugera, the Director of Technical Support Services, Electoral Commission, acknowledges the fact that technology is complex and may fail at the last minute. He says the Commission will revert to the electronic register to identify voters should the new system fail.

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This comes amidst concerns from the opposition and civil society about the readiness of the Commission to use the machines since they haven't been tested yet the elections are less than four weeks away. They also believe that the Biometric Voter's Verification System can be manipulated to favor certain candidates.
Electoral Commission has secured 32,334 machines to cater for the 28,010 polling stations across the country. Two extra machines will be deployed at each of the 1,382 sub counties for back up.  According to Namugera, each of the machines will be configured with the data of a specific polling station where it will be in use.
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At least 66,000 sub county and parish supervisors; polling assistants and presiding officers who will operate the devices are undergoing training.

In the 2013 Kenya elections, the vote tallying system broke down in some areas, forcing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to revert to the manual system. At least 25 countries in Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Zambia, have had malfunctions while using the biometric kits in their respective elections.


About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.