Somaliland to hold iris recognition elections

09/11/17

Somaliland’s presidential election on November 13 will be the first ever election in Africa to use Iris-recognition software to register and monitor voting.

The famine and war-stricken country is using the biometric tech to prevent any electoral fraud, nearly 800,000 voters have been registered so far.

In 2015, Somaliland’s electoral commission began trials of an iris-based voter registration system in preparation for a national election system.

Last year, election specialist Roy Dalle Vedove approached University of Notre Dame biometrics expert Kevin Bowyer and his team to help develop the system.

"One goal of the Somaliland government is to have honest, respected elections,”  biometrics expert Kevin Bowyer told Planet Biometrics at the time. “Toward this end, they want to create a fraud-free voter registration list. They have turned to biometrics as a means to generate such a list.”

If a full-scale version of the iris system is put in place for the national elections, “Somaliland would have the most technically sophisticated voting register in the world”, said Bowyer.

The elections were scheduled to be held in March but was postponed due to the drought condition in the region.

The three candidates are former minister Muse Bihi Abdi of the ruling KULMIYE (Peace, Unity and Development Party); veteran politician Faisal Ali Warabe of UCID (Justice and Welfare Party); and then the former speaker of the House of Representatives Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro of Waddani (National Party).

They started campaigning on October 21 and so far, no incidents of violence have been recorded as each candidate was assigned specific days to campaign to avoid clashes.

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