No going back on new voting system: Zec

No going back on new voting system: Zec

Source: No going back on new voting system: Zec – Sunday News Mar 19, 2017

Harare Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is forging ahead with plans to conduct voter registration through the biometric voter registration (BVR) system and has directed the State Procurement Board to select the company that will provide the equipment.

Zec wants to use BVR kits to produce a flawless voters’ roll before next year’s general election to end post-election disputes and allegations of vote rigging.

BVR technology will be used for voter registration in Zimbabwe for the first time and unfamiliarity with the equipment has led to misconceptions such as the suggestion that the kits would be used for actual voting. As a result of the confusion, there were suggestions that the BVR system should be abandoned, but Zec is expecting to take delivery of the equipment by April to start the voter registration by May and end it in November 2017. BVR seeks to prevent multiple-voting as biometric technology will verify a voter’s identity by analysing his/her physical characteristics such as fingerprints in situ.

In an interview last week, Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said, “As far as we are concerned, there is no going back on the BVR kits. We are following our roadmap and as we stand, the site validation tests process has now been taken over by the SPB. This process is undertaken through inviting the bidders to demonstrate the use of the facility. So we expect that very soon, SPB will announce the company that will supply the kits.”

Justice Makarau said although Zec had initially set 20 March as the date by which the supplier of the BVR kits would be made known, the timeline will now be determined by the SPB. Justice Makarau said BVR was fool-proof as the system ensured prospective voters were registered once, leaving no room for duplication. She dismissed speculation that BVR was prone to manipulation.

“We want the public to understand that there is nothing really amiss about this exercise. Voter registration will be carried through a system whereby our voter registration team will be placed at stations where people will be invited to undergo the process. There is not really a world of difference between the current voter registration exercise which uses BVR and what used to happen in the past. The only real difference is that in addition to being asked to submit their proof of residence and national identity cards we will ask those intending to vote to also submit their photos. So they will have their photographs taken and they will also have their fingerprints taken.”

Justice Makarau said people should understand that BVR was for registration only and not actual voting.