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Biometric Voter Registration is Not Same as Optical Marked Registration


According to FrontPage Africa.  Former NEC Chairman James Fromoyan claims that the Commission “is not conducting a genuine Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) but rather the same Optical Marked Registration (ORM) that has been used over the years in the country.”

Rating Justification

Local Voices Liberia iVerify team has thoroughly verified the claim and established that it is incorrect. To arrive at this conclusion, we researched to know the differences between the two forms of registration — Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) and Optical Marked Registration (OMR) or Optical Marked Recognition and how they can be used for elections.

OMR is a technology that enables a machine to recognize marks made on a paper form, such as ticks, bubbles, or checkmarks. OMR is used to quickly and accurately capture information from paper forms, making it ideal for high-volume data, and a scanner used to translate the captured data into a database. The use of OMR does not necessarily result in efficiency gains; rather, it shifts the workload to the local registration teams. This process is error-prone and requires qualitative training as well as high concentration and dedication on the part of the registration staff.

For Biometric Voter Registration or BVR, it involves the use of biometric technologies with the use of computers, fingerprint scanners, and digital cameras to capture the biodata of applicants. It uses unique features of voter’s physical characteristics, such as facial features or fingerprints in addition to demographic data to identify them and civil data or Personally Identifiable Information (PII)-Name, gender, identity card/passport number, telephone number etc.

Once a biometric voter registry has been established, some of the captured data can be printed and/or stored electronically on voter ID cards. A voter’s photo is usually printed on their ID card sometimes; cards also include an image of a fingerprint and the voter’s signature. Voter ID cards can also store biometric information in digital format on a microchip, magnetic strip, or barcode included on the card

Based on the evidence we reviewed, we conclude that the claim made by the former NEC Boss and his organization is incorrect because the NEC
is using biometric technologies like computers, fingerprint scanners, and digital cameras to capture the biodata of applicants.

In addition, the NEC also gathers personally identifiable information about applicants before they are registered.
Local Voices Liberia, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, has implemented the iVerify Liberia system with the objective of strengthening capacities to address threats to information integrity, especially in view of the upcoming 2023 elections, to ensure all Liberian citizens have access to credible, reliable and verified information, everywhere and at all times.

This initiative is funded by Irish Aid, Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia, European Union Delegation in Liberia and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. UNDP or its donors have no say in the production of this fact check report.

Jerry Gaye is a Liberian journalist and Fact Checker and an experienced with over six years of working experience. He is a skilled in News Writing and Editing, Feature Writing, and Investigative Reporting.

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