Biometric Voter Registration Launches In Solomon Islands

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New system will record individual’s biometrics on voter ID card

By Stephen Diisango, USP journalist student

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 4, 2013) – A new and improved voter registration system has been launched yesterday in Solomon Islands.

Called the Biometric Voter Registration, the system is expected to solve problems normally faced during voting such as double voting and or voting on other people’s names.

The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission held the launching at the National Museum to mark the start of the Biometric Voters Registration Campaign.

The ceremony was attended by the chairman of the SIEC, Sir Allen Kemakeza, Opposition leader Dr, Dereck Sikua, Permanent Secretary of Home affairs, Mr. Fred Fakarii and Representatives.

Chief Electoral Officer Polycarp Haununu said the Electoral Commission will undertake a nationwide registration of eligible electors using the new system, starting from January to March 2014.

"This is part of strengthening of the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands," Mr Haununu said.

He said the commission has taken the "bold decision" to replace the current voters list with a list to be compiled using the Biometric technology, in the face of advancing ICT and emerging challenges in voter registration in the Solomon Islands.

"In the past years, registrations of voters were captured manually which sometimes not accurate and takes up a lot of time.

"With the use of this system, it will be simple, fast, and reliable.

Biometric Voter Registration is simply the use of a laptop computer attached to a scanner and a camera to capture an individual’s details, thumbprint, an ID photo for reference purposes and for future corrections on the data base.

Mr Haununu explained that after a voter is registered, he or she will be issued with an identity card.

"The identification cards will be used by voters during the voting time," he said.

He said previously, many voters engaged in multiple registrations, there were inflated voters lists; there were difficulties in removing deceased persons from the voters list and also making amendments.

"There was also difficulty and challenges in managing information of electors and assigning electors to designated polling."

The chief Electoral Officer said the past method of registering voters did not have inbuilt mechanism for detecting multiple registrations which always allow some people to register and vote more than once.

"This new registration process will help in identification of individuals and will be accurate.

He urged everyone over 18 years of age to register and vote.

"The Electoral Commission has been working very hard behind the scene to develop a process which will allow all eligible citizens of the Solomon Islands to register as an elector so that they can vote in the 2014 General Election.

"It is therefore vital that everyone understands the new registration system and have to re-register during this up-coming period," he said.

Mr Haununu said the important thing eligible voters must understand is the creation of new lists under the new registration system.

"Although your name may have been on the register of electors for many years, we are creating new lists and this means everyone needs to register again," he stated.

He said that the reason for the re-registration is because the current lists were over the years becoming inaccurate and out of date.

He said that from late January 2014, the first voter registration centres will be opened to allow everyone to register.

"These will not only open for one day, but they will be opened in all locations to give time to enable everyone to register.

He said that it is the responsibility of eligible voters to register and take part in deciding future leaders.

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