Upcoming elections in Nigeria will go ahead with a biometric platform for the accreditation of voters and other functions — and there is nothing critics can do about it, says the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission.
The Cable reports that the bimodal voter automated system (BVAS), which replaces the exiting smart card system, has already been deployed to thirty states. INEC plans to utilize more than 200,000 BVAS units in the February 2023 general election, which observers say could bring a major change in how elections are conducted among the country’s 95 million registered voters. Critics have expressed concerns about the devices’ effectiveness, and INEC has beefed up security after a series of attacks on its offices raised further questions about data security. In-Person Ballot Marking System
But Festus Okoye, the national commissioner for information for INEC, was resolute in insisting that BVAS was safe and secure, and that its use was stipulated in the 2022 Electoral Act. “I have said it and I want to repeat it,” he said. “Even if you protest from now till tomorrow against BVAS, the commission must deploy it.”
This echoes previous statements from INEC committing to BVAS. Speaking in Washington D.C. at an event organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, Chairman of INEC, said that BVAS is here to stay and that “there’s no going back.”
A similar debate over biometric election technology is at play in Guyana, where the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has ruled out the use of fingerprint scans at polling stations, saying it violates the country’s constitution.
In a statement, retired Justice Claudette Singh said, “with specific reference to the call for the introduction of a biometric identification system at every Polling Station,” it was “absolutely clear” that making fingerprint scans a prerequisite for voting would be unconstitutional.
Singh said she had no objection to biometrics as one ID option for voters, but called for a feasibility study to determine effective approaches before any rollout is to begin.
Currently, any Guyanese person whose name is on the voters list can still cast a ballot without any form of identification, through a folio verification system and by speaking an oath.
The need for effective biometric election registration and ID solutions is increasing globally. This week, in the Philippines, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) projected 2 million additional new voters in its current registration cycle, according to Manila Bulletin. Beginning on December 17, the Register Anywhere Project (RAP) will begin a pilot period in select malls, allowing voters to submit applications and have their biometrics taken on-site.
biometrics | digital ID | Guyana | Nigeria | Philippines | voter registration
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