2021 Election Watch

EC Soaked In Criticism For Delaying Biometric Election Systems

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By Our Reporter

Uganda’s Electoral Commission (EC) is being asked to provide details on its Biometric Voter Verification Kits (BVVK) and related technologies by a team of local election observers.

The country goes to the polls in a presidential election next week, after a campaign period marred by a deteriorating human rights situation, according to the UN.

The biometric kits were supplied by Smartmatic and used in the 2016 election, with voters scanning their fingerprints at polling stations to verify their identity. In September, the company won an Sh82.8 billion (US$22.4 million) tender to supply equipment for the 2021 election.

A representative of the Centre for Constitutional Governance criticized the delay and expressed concern about the training of the officials who will operate the biometric system.

“Eight days to the general elections and the EC officials have not come out to tell us whether the machines are ready or not. We don’t have information from EC to show whether the biometric technology arrived or not,” said CCG Executive Director Sarah Bireete. She added that it is unclear if the technology provides back-up or audit capabilities.

A representative of political party Renewed Uganda suggested the EC’s delay in providing details is suspect because of a pattern of problems in its management of opposition campaigns.

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Observers suggested the biometric kits should have been unveiled for the public earlier this week.

EC Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama responded that the body plans to provide details about the BVVKs soon, saying: “The commission in its quest to exhibit transparency and inclusiveness in the processes, we are going to invite at an appropriate time the political parties or candidates at the demonstration stage of how this new system operates. This system is going to be used at all polling stations across the country.”

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