The biometric voter registration (BVR) kits have been unveiled to stakeholders, assessors and commissioners from the electoral body ZEC, ahead of mock voter registration tests scheduled for Monday and Tuesday this coming week.
Zimbabwe is on the path to join a growing trend across the continent and around the world by adopting the BVR system.
The system is said to ensure quick and precise voter identification and enrolment which are the cornerstone of any election.
This Friday (today) representatives from political parties, civic society organisations and commissioners from the electoral body witnessed the unveiling of the kits by officials from the two companies that have been shortlisted.
A Germany company Dermalog Identification Systems was the first to present their kit and demonstrated how it works and Laxton Group Limited from China then followed suit.
The presentations were conducted separately and the turnout by stakeholders was commendable.
BVR is set to replace the current manual system which relied on the national identification (ID) number and ID picture for purposes of authenticating the identity of the voter on the polling day.
However the actual polling in the 2018 elections will still be conducted manually.
BVR systems are based on biometrics which use human biological features like finger prints, facial images, the iris of an eye or an individual’s voice among other features for purposes of identifying or authenticating the identity of that particular person.
The machine then stores the information in an automated system, and when the individual comes to vote on polling day, he or she will be identified by their biometric feature.
Analysts agree that BVR systems are becoming popular because of a number of advantages, including their ability to prevent duplicate registrations.
They are also credited for being easy to use when registering and identifying voters, but this is not to say BVR systems are perfect.
Like any other system, they do have challenges which require care and contingency measures.
The initial cost of investing in BVR technology is also quite high.
However, most observers opinionated that while there are potential weaknesses, the benefits of BVR outweigh the challenges and have implored the electoral authorities to take measures to minimise the risks as well as have contingency measures to apply in case of a systems breakdown.
Adopting BVR requires training of election officials both for registration and for implementing and operating the system on polling day and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will be training some officials this weekend who will conduct the site validation tests next week.