The Zimbabwe Election support (ZESN) notes, comments that were attributed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the Herald of March 10 on a number of electoral reforms that the government is proposing ahead of the 2018 general election .
Of particular interest is the issue of embracing what the paper termed bio-metric electronic voting system. The ZESN supports the introduction of appropriate technology in electronic processing and calls upon the government to clarify the exact type of technology they seek to introduce.
The use of technology in electoral processes has been adopted by a number of countries and can be utilised in voter registration ,polling day using verification machines and electronic voting and in results managements.
The article in the Herald does not specify whether the government will embrace both Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) and Electronic Voting System, (EVS). Therefore ZESN urges the government to clarify whether Zimbabwe will adopt both BVR and electronic voting system.ZESN’s view is that the implemantation of technology in electoral processes should be staggered in phases with the current reform mainly focusing on BVR.
ZESN ‘s understanding is that BVR is where one or more physical ,biological behavioral characteristics are stored usually in a data base and used for identification and verification of the voters,unmistakenly using biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or iris of the eye.Electronic or e-voting is voting using electronic means either aid or take care of the chores of casting and counting votes in place of ballot papers .
Countries such as Brazil,Germany,The United States, Venezuela and Namibia use electronic voting machines while countries such as Kenya ,Ghana and Uganda have adopted BVR systems .ZESN understands that Zimbabwe is currently undertaking BVR.ZESN believes that the BVR system accompanied by other electoral reforms ,has great potential to transform the electoral system in Zim given that it offers significant protection against double registration and inaccuracy.
In addition,ZESN notes that the BVR system requires careful planning,preparation and implemantation which if not properly planned and implemented could have more disastrous consequences to the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.
Furthermore,although the technology offers solutions to some of the challenges that have bedeviled Zimbabwe’s electoral processes ,especially voter registration.It is a solution for lack of political will and does not regulate human behavior with regards in manipulation.
Technology cannot for instance replace the need for political will for reforms in electoral laws and practice.
ZESN reiterates its position that although the adoption of the polling station based voter’s poll and biometric voting system will enhance transparency and credibility of electoral processes,there is need for political will to facilitate for the creation for a conducive political environment.
In addition ,equal access to the media ,adequate resources and enhancing capacity of ZEC contributes voter education and access to the voter’s polls by all political parties and an open data policy on election processes,including results management among a plethora of other electoral reforms must be implemented.ZESN
This article was produced by the ZESN