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How Zimbabwe's Biometric ID Scheme — and China’s AI Aspirations — threw a Wrench in Elections

– Global Voices

In partnership with The Engine Room, journalist Kudzai Chimhangwa reviews the implementation of Zimbabwe’s biometric voter registration system that was designed and implemented by Chinese firm CloudWalk Technology

Chimhangwa explains the genesis of the biometric voter registration (BVR) system and its contested use in the latest national election in Zimbabwe. The system, focused on facial recognition, was touted as a way to eliminate voter fraud. But as Chimhangwa says:

"...while it may have helped eliminate the problem of ghost voters, the BVR system also became a new tool of voter intimidation."

Human rights advocates reported to Chimhangwa’s publication that the system represented “compromised integrity” and “questionable business agreements” between Zimbabwe, China, and Chinese companies.

As Human Rights Watch Southern Africa Director Dhewa Mavhinga told Global Voices:

In principle, the BVR system is secure, but, as the case of Zimbabwe showed, its integrity is compromised when it is used by institutions like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that had questionable independence

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