Nigeria Biometric Voter Deduplication Removes 16.5M

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria — the elections management body of Africa’s largest democracy — says it plans to add facial recognition to the fingerprint biometric technology used for voter authentication during the 2023 general elections in the country. The agency also eliminated 16.5 million apparently duplicate, incomplete or fraudulent entries from its voter roll in a biometric deduplication process. According to Blueprint, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, made the disclosure recently through a representative during Blueprint’s 10th Anniversary and Impact Series Awards ceremony in the capital, Abuja. The outlet cites the official as saying the purpose of introducing biometrics is not only to modernize the electoral system, but to ensure free, fair and credible elections. Nigeria will vote a new President, Members of the National Assembly and several State Governors in 2023. Meanwhile, INEC also disclosed that it has expunged 16.5 million duplicated names from the voter roll between 2011 and 2019. The provider of the biometric deduplication technology was not named, though Safran (now Idemia) had a de-duplication contract with NIMC extended in 2017, and recent deduplication processes for electoral rolls in Africa have been contracted by Ipsidy in Zimbabwe, Innovatrics in Guinea, and Neurotechnology in DRC. “Between 2011 and 2015, optimization processes led to a cleanup that necessitated the removal of over 15 million records due to de-duplication and not meeting set business rules; between 2015 and 2019, a total of 15.7 million registrations took place, with one million records removed due to de-duplication processes.” Chidi Nwafor, INEC’s Director of ICT was quoted as saying. Nwafor confirmed during the recent ID4Africa livecast event on building trust in elections with biometrics that the country’s foundational digital ID, the NIN, will not be integrated with the electoral roll in time for the 2023 elections. INEC also wants to see laws put in place that support the use of state-of-the-art voting technology in Nigeria, while also assuring that adequate measures will be in place to safeguard the biometric data of voters that will be collected when the time comes. INEC has also spoken in the past about introducing digital voting during the 2023 polls, and possibly as early as this year for a state election.

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