INEC fields digital, traditional tools for voter register updating

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 10:54 AM Jun 13 2024
Ramadhani Kailima, the director of elections.
Photo: File
Ramadhani Kailima, the director of elections.

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to use digital and traditional methods in updating the voter register, with 40,126 centres earmarked for the exercise.

Ramadhani Kailima, the director of elections, made this affirmation in a presentation to media house editors in Dar es Salaam and journalists yesterday, explaining online voter registration to facilitate improvement of information on voters.

A voter who is already in the register can initiate changing information for example by having moved to a different ward or street, changing or moving to another polling station, and similar details.

This can be entered into the voter register process with a mobile phone application or on a computer, he said, noting that the voter registration system was redesigned to meet current biometric voter registration (BVR) kits based on android software, unlike the earlier windows software.

To correct voter information one has to furnish a national identification number and card, he stated, pointing out that results of the 2022 Population and Housing Census show that 5,586,433 new voters are expected to be registered, a rise of 18.7 percent on the 29,754,699 voters present in the current register after the 2019/2020 update.

Up to 594,494 voters will be removed from the register for lack of qualifications, and after improvements the register will have a total of 34,746,638 voters, he said, acknowledging that the number is likely to increase.

The commission has completed setting up 40,126 voter registration centers, with 39,709 on the Mainland and 417 in Zanzibar, an increase of 2,312 stations compared to 37,814 stations during the 2019/2020 polls, he specified.

The trial update was done in Ngambo ward, Tabora municipality and Ikoma ward, Rorya District in Mara region, to test readiness and effectiveness of the new equipment to be used during the current register update, he elaborated.

In accordance with rule 15 (2) (c) relating to updating the voter register for this year, INEC is facilitating prisoners imprisoned for less than six months, as well as students, to be registered as voters.

In the Mainland there are 130 voter registration centers in prisons while Zanzibar has 10 centers located in training colleges, he said.

INEC has bought 6,000 BVR kits that use scanners to take voters' information including photos, signatures and fingerprints, he said, noting that current equipment weighs 18 kg, while the earlier type weighed 35 kg.

He discounted Diaspora voting as the law has not yet been enacted, while Stanslaus Mwita, the INEC director of registration and information technology, said the old BVR and the new one are complementary. Form number one is to register all voters, form number 5A to improve information on those who have moved stations, lost or damaged cards and form 5B to remove information of voters who have lost credentials in the register.

The online system enables the applicant to start the process by entering his information including the voter's number and year of birth, then sending his application to the commission for a token to take to the nearest station and be given a card.

Completing the information entry process leads to a message within 12 hours, with the updating process through the Internet phone slated for inactivation two days “before the last day of improvement for the relevant area," he said.

Those with special needs will be assisted to get to the centers, with systems being prepared to enable their participation without obstacles.

Judge Jacobs Mwambegele, the INEC chairman, said that improvement of the voter register will be successful with the participation of the media.

Journalists need to take their primary responsibility of educating the public to show up at the stations, he emphasised.