The Electoral Commision of Zambia (ECZ), with the assiatnce of the United Nations (UN), will this year use Biometric technology to conduct voter registration. Biometric technology is used to measure and analyze human body characteristics, such as fingerprints, for for either identification or verification purposes.
The UN, through its Development Programme (UNDP), has already selected a company called Smartmatic to provide the new technologies for the improvement of the electoral register for ECZ.
For the first stage of the project, Smartmatic will supply ECZ with 1,000 mobile electronic biometric registry units, known as PARkits. This kit will include all hardware and software components, with their respective protective cases, training services, technical assistance and a one-year warranty.
Smartmatic, a leading provider of technological solutions for governments, was selected after the UN conducted a rigorous testing of numerous identity and registry technologies.
“We are very excited to be selected by the UNDP for this important project and to have the opportunity to provide the Republic of Zambia with our advanced technology to enhance their electoral register”, said Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic’s CEO. The PARkit units that will be used in Zambia are all equipped with Smartmatic’s registration application and with electrical backup components that ensure its autonomy for 8 straight hours.
The UNDP expects recruiting of operators to start on the second week of April and the electoral registration operations to begin in May 2010.The voter registration project in Zambia is part of the UNDP’s ongoing commitment to improve the performance of democratic governments. The UNDP invests 34% of its resources each year in projects in support of democratic governments and provides on-the-ground services in 166 countries.
Smartmatic specialises in fully-automated, electronic voting systems which they claim are completely secure, reliable and auditable. In January this year, their electronic voting system was successfully used in a parliamentary elections in ,Curaçao, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the
Venezuelan coast. The big test for the company’s voting system will be in Phillipines, where that country’s Electoral Commission has deployed an automated electronic system by Smartmatic for use in this year’s May elections.
It is however not clear weather the ECZ will use Smartmatic’s automated electoral systems or just use their voter registration component. While automated voting system are claimed to deliver results timely and with confidence, many people are still sceptical of the successful deployment of such an operation in Zambia at the moment because of infrastructure challenges.
Timely release of results has been at the centre of frustration that many a Zambian voters and Political parties have had to endure in the last couple of elections. Any solution to address this problem will roundly be welcomed by all parties involved.