Over Biometric Voter Cards process
By Bridgett Milton
The House of Representatives is investigating the National Elections Commission (NEC) over its announcement of the biometric voter registration (BVR) process.
The House took the decision following the appearance of NEC Chairperson Madam Davidetta Browne – Lansanah during its special session on Wednesday, 7 September 2022.
During her appearance, Madam Brown – Lansanah was asked to provide information regarding concerns raised over the scheduled biometric voter registration process.
After her presentation, lawmakers said the NEC boss’ presentation on the biometric system was not convincing and they needed to carry out an investigation on the process.
After her presentation, the NEC faced several questions from lawmakers to address concerns on the usage of the biometric system in the rural parts of the country where there is no network.
Many of the questions asked by lawmakers to the NEC Boss were left unanswered.
That led to a motion filed by Montserrado County Electoral District #16 Representative Dixon Seboe forwarding the matter to the Committees on Elections & Inauguration and Contracts & Monopoly to further investigate NEC.
Lawmakers said in as much as biometric registration is a good thing, they believe that the country’s electoral system is not yet prepared to absorb it.
Some lawmakers said the biometric system has never been tested at the community level or during any of the county’s recent by-elections.
As such, they fear that it may not be prudent to use it to determine the outcome of the results of presidential & legislative elections.
The NEC on 31 August this year said transitioning from manual Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system to Biometric Technology for registration of voters has been emphasized in its preliminary plans for 2023.
Ahead of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, Madam Brown – Lansanah told a press conference in Monrovia last month that prevention of multiple registrations and the promotion of accuracy of the information collected for each registered voter are some advantages of the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR).
She cited other advantages as the creation of unique lifetime voter identification for each registered voter and eradication of voter impersonation.
Further, she said the advantages include removal of duplicated records from the Voters Registration System; and eradication of issues related to unintentional errors during the data entry process.
Madam Browne – Lansanah explained that the methodology for the planned BVR exercise will begin on December 15, 2022, and end on March 17, 2023.
He said during the voters’ registration exercise, portable tablets with scanners will be used.
The NEC boss noted that the data entry process, which will be performed by use of customized software, will capture each applicant’s particulars, including facial images.
She detailed that fingerprint scanners will be used to capture the thumbprints of each applicant.
An initial de-duplication will be performed at each registration center, and voter registration cards ( with special features) will be printed and issued to voters on the spot at the registration center.
According to Madam Browne – Lansanah, the Commission has decided that the Biometric Voter Registration will be done in three phases on a regional basis, and the registration teams will be stationed at each registration center.
This means that when the registration teams are deployed in a region, all registration centers in that region will be opened for registration for a period of three weeks and thereafter, the teams will move to the next region, she said.