LA PAZ, Bolivia – After a selection process lasting several months, Bolivia’s National Electoral Court announced that it had chosen the Argentinian subsidiary of Japanese technology company NEC to supply the equipment that will be used to draw up the country’s biometric electoral register. The new register will be used for the presidential elections in December.
Electoral court spokeswoman Roxana Ibarnegaray told EFE that approximately 4 million voters will be registered with the new system between 1 August and 15 October. According to Fides, NEC will supply 3,000 biometric machines to draw up a reliable register of voters.
The 3,000 machines will make it possible to register more than 60,000 electors a day, according to Ibarnegaray, who told Los Tiempos that “we have to mobilise a team of more than 10,000 people if we are to reach the approximately 4 million citizens who must be re-registered”.
According to Los Tiempos, Bolivia’s rural population is so scattered that the government will have to declare special “registration holidays” so that notaries and electoral officials can register voters living in remote areas. Because of the new requirements, the cost of organising the next elections will reach US$43 million, an average of US$11 per voter.
NEC Sales Manager Fabian Fandiño explained that the system takes a fingerprint and then checks its database for duplicates. The check, according to ABI, takes two seconds. If the same fingerprint is repeated, it will be reported to the electoral court for investigation.
Some ten candidates are expected to stand for the presidency, although, according to the opinion polls, at the moment none of them has a chance of beating President Morales, who will be seeking re-election.
A survey of urban voters made by the public universities of Santa Cruz, La Paz and Cochabamba showed that 37 percent of them intended to vote for Morales. Trailing behind him were two former presidents: Jorge Quiroga (8%) and Victor Hugo Cardenas (6%).
None of the other presidential hopefuls – Alejo Veliz, Roman Loayza, Manfred Reyes Villa, Hugo San Martin, Rene Joaquina and Samuel Doria Medina – reached 5 percent. However, observers note that the elections are still six months away and in politics many things can change in that time.