Voters update goes online

DAR EA SALAAM; REGISTERED voters can now to update their information in the Permanent National Voters’ Register online.

This comes after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) introduced the online Voters Registration System (VRS) in preparation for the nationwide upgrade of the Permanent National Voters’ Register (PVR).

NEC Chairman Judge Jacobs Mwambegele made this announcement during a meeting between the Commission and political parties regarding the preparation for the update of the PVR.

He said voters can now use their computers or mobile devices to change their polling stations if they have relocated to a different region or district.

The VRS has been designed to align with the current design of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) Kits that use Android software, unlike the previous BVR Kits that used Microsoft Windows software, he noted.

The Commission is currently preparing for the improvement of the PVR, which includes conducting trials.

“In 2019 and 2020, the Commission used BVR technology to upgrade the PVR. This involved using BVR Kits weighing 35 kilograms, and transportation from one location to another was sometimes challenging,” Judge Mwambegele explained.

As a result, in the next exercise, the Commission will employ VRS, which is placed in a Mini BVR Kit weighing 15 kilogrammes. They will also use different contemporary technology that is integrated and portable, capable of capturing and storing voter information.

Judge Mwambegele stated that the trial PVR upgrading exercise will take place in Ng’ambo Ward, Tabora Municipal Council, Tabora Region and Ikoma Ward, Rorya District Council, Mara Region. It will be held from November 24 to 30 this year.

The purpose of the exercise is to test the devices and systems to identify potential difficulties and provide solutions before the formal commencement of the upgrading exercise throughout the country on the date set and declared by the Commission.

The Commission is required to update the Permanent National Voters’ Register twice, once after the conclusion of the General Election and one day before the day of nominating candidates for the next General Election. This is in accordance with section 15(5) of the National Elections Act, Cap. 343, and section 21(5) of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Cap. 292.

The NEC Chairman stated that the commission will ensure that the public is adequately informed about the trial exercise by employing a variety of approaches to deliver voter education. This includes meetings with other election stakeholders nationwide and in respective regions.

Other tactics that will be employed, according to him, include the media, particularly community radios, as well as social networks, newspaper articles, brochures, and advertising vehicles.

NEC Director of Elections, Kailima Ramadhani, said they chose those two areas for trials because of the increase in population, the infrastructure of those areas, and the large interaction of people from neighbouring countries.

CHADEMA’s Secretary-General, John Mnyika, urged representatives of his party in the districts where the trial exercise would be held to assign agents and mobilise people to participate in the activity.

“After this exercise, we will give our assessment,” he added.

Secretary-General of the Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC) Doyo Hassan, lauded NEC for developing an online system, saying it paved the way for future online voting.

“We support the Commission’s initiative to introduce a new system to enhance PVR as it streamlines the process, and we recommend that prisoners and members of the diaspora be given the opportunity to enter the PVR,” he said.

Meanwhile, political stakeholders have applauded the proposed changes to the Election, Political Parties, and National Election Commission (NEC) Bill while suggesting other changes to make further improvements, including gender equality within political parties.

The stakeholders spoke yesterday during the virtual meeting organised by Tanzania Connection.

Commenting, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Tulia Ackson urged political stakeholders to consider the issue of gender equality in the leadership of their political parties.

CCM’s Special Seats MP Neema Lugangira commended the proposed changes of the new Article 10 section C in the political party bill, which states that every political party should consider gender equality, including the inclusion of special groups such as youth, women, and people with special needs.

Chairperson of Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC), Hamad Rashid Mohamed, commended the proposal to make NEC autonomous.

For her side, Executive Director of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), Dr. Rose Reuben, expressed her wish to see increased participation of women in political parties by having laws and policies that enable them to venture into politics.

The Secretary-General of BAKWATA, Alhaj Nuhu Jabir Mruma, said the country may have good laws for elections, but if it does not have ethical leaders, their implementation will not be effective.

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