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Electronic voting system coming to Yemen.

Thirteen-year old Mohammed Al-Badwi smiles as he poses in front of a camera at his school. He is part of a test-run for the soon-to-be implemented electronic registration system for future parliament and presidential elections. Proponents of the technology say that an electronic system, as opposed to the manual registration used now, will assist Yemen as it transitions to democracy.

The computerized system is scheduled to be implemented in September, and proponents say it will make the process more efficient and eliminate the risk of fraud.

A voter's data is entered into a computer and a photo of the voter is taken, along with his or her ten fingerprints, electronically. The system utilizes scanners, digital cameras, finger recognition devices and computers, Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum head Mohammed Al-Hakimi said.

The process, proponents say, allows those monitoring to recognize if someone has already registered or voted.

Judge Abdulmon'm Al-Eryani, head of the Media and Electoral Awareness Sector in the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER), said the committee implemented the test-run to ensure the efficiency and accuracy of the technology being considered. Three international companies are competing for a bid to provide the technology and services.

Two-hundred-and-ten male and female students from Rabeah Al-Adwiah and Baghdad Schools played the role of voters. Twelve professors and 18 students from the computer science department of Sana'a University evaluated the devices for performance, El-Eryani said.

Representatives of the three international companies from France, Belgium and the Netherlands were present during the trial-run. The electronic registration and voting system will cost $22 million, El-Eryani said. When the Yemeni government fell short of the sum needed, the United Nations and other donor countries stepped in to provide funding.

UNDP elections coordinator Darren Nance told Yemen Times that Yemen is the first Arab country to implement the electronic registration system.

By using fingerprints, the system will help guard against fraud, Nance said.

Critics of the technology say that the system is not fraud-proof.

Information systems expert Aref Al-Anesi said that though fingerprints and iris scans cannot be forged, those who insert the data can manipulate the system. Fingerprints can be registered to a deceased person, allowing underage and other unqualified people to cast votes.

However, Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) spokesperson Mohammed Al-Mansur said that mistrust of the current registration system is a chronic problem in Yemen that the time has come to give the electronic system a chance.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Jun 20, 2013
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