In Kenya, voter registration exercise for the March 4, 2013 general election was kicked off by President Mwai Kibaki who registered on Monday.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is counting on cutting-edge technology to prepare a new and more accurate voter’s roll.
With memories of the botched disputed 2007 election still fresh, IEBC is approaching the voter registration knowing full well that a botched voter registration process could have negative consequences for the credibility of the coming election.
The registration will be a test for an electoral body still struggling to demonstrate integrity and competence, having just bungled the original plan to procure biometric voter registration equipment under circumstances that forced the Cabinet to move in to save the situation.
The stakes are especially high for IEBC because it is more or less boxed in by a constitutional provision which says that the election must be held in March 2013.
In just a month, IEBC must put in place a system that will capture and store voter information at the same time making sure that the register is secure and without errors.
The technology will identify voters by name, age, photograph and fingerprints.
The registration kit consists of a lap top, a finger print scanner and a printer. And each unit will have an external drive for data storage, a long lasting battery for power where electricity is vulnerable and a weather proof case to protect delicate electronics.
Registering 20 million voters in two months is going to be a massive exercise that will test IEBC’s competence and efficiency in major ways.
Kicking off the exercise, President Kibaki issued a stern warning to those who want to disrupt voter registration that they will be dealt with firmly.
The preparations will in 103 days culminate in the election of a President, governors, senators, MPs, women representatives and county representatives. It will be the first under the new constitution.
Registration is on-going in all constituencies and will end on December 18.