Somaliland is first in the world to use iris biometric voting system

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A woman in Somaliland holding her voting card on election day [Photo -File]
Residents of the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland voted Monday in its third presidential poll, hoping to prove its democratic credentials and strengthen the case for independence from troubled Somalia.

The northern territory, which is more tribally homogenous and stable than the rest of Somalia, broke away in 1991 and has been striving to attain international recognition ever since.

The self-declared republic joined the tall list of African countries that blocked social media during elections.

This was their way of dealing with fake news and rumours which they said may create instability in the country.

Biometric voter registration in Somaliland [File- Photo]
The election was however technologically friendly as they became the first country in Africa and the first in the world to use the iris recognition-based biometric voting system which scans the eye to verify the identity of registered voters before they are cleared to vote.

The machines have been under trial since 2015 ahead of the election held on November 13. It was successful and they made history.

Most countries including Ghana, Kenya and Angola use the fingerprint biometric voting system to identify registered voters.

It eliminated the problem of double voting. The disadvantage is mostly technical including the breakdown of machines and the running down of batteries which sometimes slows the process.

The vote is set to be the most sophisticated yet with some 700,000 voters registered using biometric eye scanners which will identify them before they cast their ballots

Said Ali Muse, spokesman for the national electoral commission, said the move was necessary to prevent interference from outside the borders of the semi-autonomous state and speculation over results.