Sana'a, more than a thousand citizens in a small district of Sanaa actively took part in the future of electoral registration in Yemen when they headed to local schools to participate in Multi-donor Basket Fund supported Biometric Voter Registration.
After more than a year of planning and support, Yemen's Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER), in coordination with UNDP/Multi-donor Basket Fund, on 10 May, 2014, officially rolled out a pilot project of the Biometric Voter Registration in constituency number 10 within Sana’a secretariat.
The partial rollout in coordination with the Multi-donor Basket Fund Support to Elections during the Transitional Period (SETP) was part of a planned pilot project to conduct a complete revamp of the previous voter rolls. The revamped registration process is a key milestone of the Gulf Cooperation Council and its implementation mechanism during the transitional period.
Envisioned to last until the end of May, the pilot will lay the groundwork for the eventual rollout of the registration period that will cover all constituencies across Yemen. The pilot currently taking place in constituency number 10 in Sana’a secretariat, will determine the feasibility of a complete rollout across the country, and allow for technical experts to assess how best to adjust coordination mechanisms as well as public information campaigning for the comprehensive registration period.
Technical teams in Tunis, France, and Yemen, as well as international SETP experts and the SCER, will map out potential challenges to the new and improved Biometric Voter Registry and plot a course for the next six-months. As lead agency within the Multi-donor Basket Fund, UNDP has similarly been working alongside Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).
On the first day of the new registration, approximately 981 men and 275 women, registered as Yemeni operators took them through the process by filling out their voter registration forms, scanning their 10 fingerprints, snapping their pictures and handing them a new voter registration slip with an ID number that will be the basis for an eventual civil registration card envisioned for the future.
UNDP's senior management visited one of the registration centers and went through the registration process. They were greeted by citizens and election commission operators playing their roles in the history of election registration in Yemen.
"This is a remarkable achievement," said Ms. Mikiko Tanaka, Country Director for UNDP-Yemen. "I am confident that this is a milestone event with regard to the electoral processes in Yemen and in donors support to the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER)."
This comes after almost a year of strategic planning that went through numerous tests, designs and missions in and out of the country to formulate what would be the first ever Biometric Voter Registration system implemented in an Arab region at this scale.
UNDP purchased the Biometric Voter Registration kits, a combination of computers, fingerprint scanners, and advanced cameras, by utilizing the Multi-Donor Basket Fund, which includes contributions from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, in addition to contributions from UNDP. UNDP similarly provided the software that will empower operators working in conjunction with the SCER to turn a highly politicized process of the registry into a more technical and transparent system.
Amjad Alsharif, SETP Officer in Charge