Somaliland’s presidential election in November was the world’s first national election to use iris recognition to register and identify voters.
The Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC) reported an 80 per cent voter turnout. Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991, had the legitimacy of previous elections disputed after duplicate registrations were found.
According to a company statement, the NEC deployed the Iris ID iris recognition system after trials showed it surpassed both fingerprint and facial recognition systems in identifying duplicate registrations, with an estimated 30,000 duplicates found. The technology also provided speed benefits.
The NEC purchased 350 portable registration kits consisting of a laptop computer, handheld iris scanner, webcam for facial photos, a flash and tripod. Registration stations were set up across the country – many in remote rural areas.
“In a world-first, these elections employed pioneering iris-recognition technology to register and identify voters, which is a testament to Somaliland’s commitment to its resources in democratic institutions and the rule of law,” wrote President Muse Bihi Abdi in a Financial Times column after the elections.