ZEC identification system red flags multiple registrants
Harare (New Ziana) –The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) recently red flagged scores of people who attempted to register as voters multiple times as part of a spirited mobilisation campaign by some Western embassies and opposition aligned civic organisations, a senior official revealed on Thursday.
The United States embassy in Harare in particular, in cahoots with several Non-Governmental Organisations, have been running voter registration campaigns under various hashtags to woo voters for the opposition ahead of the March 26 by-elections and the 2023 harmonised polls.
The campaign was also meant to tarnish the image of ZEC, which they accuse of deliberately disenfranchising prospective voters and favouring the ruling Zanu PF party.
ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba said the electoral management body had been alert to the attempts to cheat the voter registration system.
“I will say this without fear, there were a lot of people who were given incentives to register to vote and those people did not disclose to the NGOs or the CSOs that they were already registered to vote in order to access the incentives,” she told a Zimpapers Television Network programme.
“I am not implying. I am saying directly that because those people were then flagged by our system to say there is a person with one set of fingerprints who registered six times to vote but they were already on the voters’ roll.
“Our Automated Fingerprint Identification System, if you register 10 times to vote, it will only recognise one file, it will only say there is one registrant. So if you come to me and say we know we registered 260 people to vote (I will ask you) were you aware that they were already registered? Did you know whether their IDs were authentic? Did you know whether they have different fingerprints? You cannot cheat the ZEC voter registration system.”
Chigumba said the voter registration process was temper-proof and as such, would easily identify any malpractices.
“When you register to vote they take your fingerprints, so our AFIS works on the basis of fingerprints as the primary identification. The AFIS does not care about your national ID it will just flag to say there are six Andy Hodges with the same set of fingerprints trying to be registered on the voters’ roll. So we only accept one set of fingerprints and we reject the other five Andy Hodges and I am telling you emphatically that this is what transpired,” she said in reference to programme host Andy Hodges.
“It has been reported to us that the people would deliberately go to different registration centres and they would deliberately go to different organisations that were mobilising people to register to vote and they would register and they would access the incentives and when it comes now to being entered as a registrant on the voters’ roll the system flagged them as multiple registrants.”
Commenting on allegations that the permanent voter registration centres were few, Chigumba said remedial action would be taken if ZEC was failing to cope with the number of prospective voters.
“We have 73 permanent registration offices which were inundated with numbers of people intending to register to vote who were then turned away,” she said.
In December, ZEC revealed that it had only registered close to 3 000 new voters in the whole of 2021, despite the spirited campaigns by the Western embassies and their allies.
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