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Voter cards white paper: maximizing voter inclusion with instant issuance

09/11/2017

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Optimizing voter card issuance

The governmental smart card market is growing at a regular pace. The international non-profit association Eurosmart forecasts sales of around 510 million governmental card credentials by the end of 2017.

According to the World Bank, in 2017, 1.1 billion people still do not have a legal identity. African and South Asian populations represent the majority of this total.

Trends in Africa

Registering as many eligible citizens as possible to build stronger electoral, national ID and healthcare systems remains at the heart of priorities for African governments. Biometrics is, amongst other technologies, one major enabler that many are and will be using over the next years to support this registration effort.

In order to identify the registered citizens, authorities need to issue and distribute official ID cards. Most African countries are still lacking local infrastructure to manage the issuance of these official documents. They often rely on external, sometimes foreign, suppliers to issue these cards in a centralized way.

In addition, in African developing countries, the lack of infrastructure, the geographical dispersion of the population and the travelling logistics make it sometimes difficult to reach the population.

Two card distribution methods - pros and cons

Two different methods for the production and distribution of voter cards are commonly used: The centralized and the decentralized card issuance.

With on-the-spot or decentralized card printing, card distribution is merged with the registration step, allowing every person registered to instantly obtain his or her card. With centralized issuance the registered population travels to a card issuance center to collect the voter card a few weeks before Election Day.

This white paper weighs the pros and cons of both methods, such as cost of equipment, registration rate, card collection rate, fraud risks, etc.

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