Three and a half Perspectives on Biometric Voter Registration in Solomon Islands

Abstract : In 2014 (2015) Solomon Islanders will cast their vote in the third national election since the end of the Tensions - assuming they have 'correctly' registered through the new Biometric Voting System. In this paper we inquire into Solomon Islands experience with biometric voting with a dual focus on (1) its role in the electoral process and the historical challenges therein and (2) the technological promises and pitfalls of digitizing citizenship. For this purpose we, firstly, examine the components and processes (technologies and techniques) of the biometric voting system as introduced in Solomon Islands. Secondly, we analyze the discourses surrounding the new system from documents and statements issued by the Electoral Commission to news media coverage, discussions on Facebook and, most of all, interviews and conversations with Solomon Islanders concerning their thoughts on, and experiences with, biometric voting. The latter includes a cross-section of potential voters in rural and urban areas (Malaita and Honiara), electoral clerks as well as IT professionals involved in implementing the system. Preliminary as it is, our analysis leads us to look into (1) the ways in which relevant 'development/aid' agencies are promoting (and selling) biometric voting as an 'all-in-one' solution to electoral fraud and (2) into how this promise becomes subverted in its execution. This is exemplified in Solomon Islanders' refusal to register because of rumours that the biometric system is a means by which the devil takes stock for Judgement Day.
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Conference papers
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01138353
Contributor : Geoffrey Hobbis <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 6:11:56 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 25, 2018 - 3:32:02 PM

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Stephanie Hobbis, Geoffrey Hobbis. Three and a half Perspectives on Biometric Voter Registration in Solomon Islands. The 2015 Association for Social Anthropologists in Oceania (ASAO) Meeting, Feb 2015, Santa Fe, United States. ⟨hal-01138353⟩

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