The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) has completed a fact-finding mission to Nepal as part of its continuing efforts to improve election management in Solomon Islands.
Chief Administrative Officer, Frederick Bosoboe and IT Manager David Ramosea spent 4 days at the Electoral Commission of Nepal (ECN), where they discussed a range of issues including Biometric Voter Registration.
Mr. Bosoboe said that the visit was extremely valuable as Nepal uses a Biometric Voter Registration System similar to the one that was used during the last National General Election in Solomon Islands.
“They are currently updating and rebuilding parts of their Biometric Voter Registration System, doing most of the work themselves,” Mr. Bosoboe said.
“We have been able to discuss international best practices in managing, upgrading and updating these systems”.
The Biometric Voter Registration or BVR system, which uses fingerprint and facial recognition technology, successfully removed more than 160,000 fraudulent, incorrect or duplicate registrations when it was introduced in Solomon Islands in 2014.
“While Nepal is a very different place, there are many similarities in the challenges that we both face elections management,” Mr. Bosoboe said.
“We both face significant transportation and communications difficulties with a very dispersed population and challenging geography. The ECN has taken a number of positive steps to try to address these issues”.
SIEC IT Manager, David Ramosea said that he was particularly interested to learn about how Nepal is using new technology, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to improve mapping and management of field resources.
“The ECN is a much larger organisation, with more than 800 permanent staff across 75 district offices. There is much they can teach us about how to adapt technology to meet challenges,” Mr. Ramosea said.
“A GIS tool would allow us to improve our processes and communications with field staff. It will help give us access to vital information in real time, ultimately improving the service to voters”.
The visit also looked at strategic planning, human resources, gender mainstreaming, social inclusion and voter awareness.
“We visited Election Information Centre in Kathmandu. A fantastic initiative that provides information and assistance to citizens right across the election cycle”, Mr. Bosoboe said.
“They also have mobile awareness teams that take a fully interactive voter education program around the country and conduct briefings for teachers so that they are better equipped to teach school students about democracy and elections.”
UNDP’s Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in Solomon Islands Project (SECSIP) facilitated the visit, with the support of the Australian Government and the European Union