16 May 2013

Tanzanian Electoral Officials Address Biometric Voter Registration Concerns

Tanzanian election officials reiterated intentions to use biometric voter registration for the 2015 elections and explained how the machines would be used, Tanzania's Daily News reported Thursday (May 16th).

The system will only be used for voter registration, not during the actual voting, National Electoral Commission (NEC) Vice-Chairman Hamid Mahmoud Hamid said.

Politicians have raised concerns about the biometric system, which has encountered problems when used in other African elections, including during Kenya's elections in March.

To avoid complications, the biometric systems will only be used to store three data points to verify voters -- fingerprints, facial images and signatures -- even though the system can store up to 12 features, NEC Deputy Secretary Sisti Cariah said.

NEC representatives also rebuffed concerns that some voters would be deprived of their voting rights because they would reach legal age just before the elections.

"It is true that there are some voters who are left out, but this can be solved when we are empowered to have representatives at the grassroots level and when the NEC legislation is amended to that effect," said NEC Commissioner Amoni Chaligha.

NEC regulations stipulate that the Permanent National Voter Register be updated twice between elections, but Chaligha said there would be amendments to have continual registration.

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