Malawi Electoral Commission opts for biometric voter registration in 2019 polls

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) is considering adopting Electronic Biometric Voter Registration (EBVR) during 2019 Tripartite Elections to address challenges the electoral body experienced during voter registration for the past elections.

Ansah: MEC will use NRB data

The country has been using Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) Technologies to come up with its voters’ register since the dawn of multiparty democracy.

Mec Chairperson, Jane Ansah SC told Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances and Public Service Reforms in Lilongwe on Tuesday that the Commission is considering moving to other efficient and effective means of voter registration for 2019 elections due to numerous challenges OMR method experienced.

“This resolution was taken in line with the best practices in and outside the region. The Commission also did extensive internal assessment of the current system, its pros and cons,” said Ansah.

Mec’s plans are in line with recommendations Africore, an international consultancy firm, made in 2013 that the Commission should move away from the OMR technology and embrace Electronic Biometric Voter Registration.

“With the launch of National Registration Bureau (NRB), Mec’s work on registration has been simplified because it will now use the data captured by NRB and at the same time, this will be cost effective to the Commission,” revealed Ansah.

She further revealed that the Commission will soon be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NRB that will guide the cooperation between the two Institutions.

“Unlike NRB, Mec’s activities are time bound and deadlines are very important that is why the Commission has made sure that this aspect is captured in the MOU. That notwithstanding, Mec has a fallback in the event that NRB does not meet its deadline,” added Ansah.

NRB rolled out National ID Project which Ansah believes will have a positive impact on the operations of the Commission as it will greatly reduce its work-load in the field during Voter Registration.

By working with NRB, Mec hopes of reducing voter registration overall cost and enhanced voter register quality as there shall be no room for the under aged, foreigners that do not qualify, inaccurate details, transposed photos as is the case using current OMR Technologies.

“Mec is optimistic that the EBVR plans will work for 2019 elections and the challenges that were faced in 2014 will be eliminated.

Many countries are now increasingly turning to biometric voting systems for fair and credible elections, and as one way of reducing incidents of fraud and illegal practices that characterize most electoral systems in Africa.

According to M2SYS which provides biometric identity management solutions, biometric voting system produces fast, accurate, and reliable voter registration at the polls under any conditions that help to maintain the integrity and credibility of the electoral process and reduce mistrust and irregularities.

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