Facial recognition software and thumbprint scanners are used to issue voter IDs.

Kenya is using cutting-edge technology to help increase confidence in democracy -- facial recognition software and thumbprint scanners are used to issue voter IDs that help guarantee each citizen a voice in the electoral process. USAID coordinates support for this pilot project with 11 other donors.

Today we visited an innovative, biometric voter registration site designed to strengthen the electoral system ahead of the August constitutional referendum.

With support from USAID, Kenya’s Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) is using the latest technology — webcams, thumbprint scanners and light-weight printers, all solar-powered so they’re not reliant on the grid — to protect the integrity of the registration process.

Of Kenya’s 210 constituencies, 18 are piloting this electronic registration system. So far, 1.5 million Kenyans have electronically registered and received their voter ID cards at pilot sites throughout the country.

The violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 presidential election highlighted the need for immediate election reform. That’s why we’re making these important investments now. In addition to the biometric registration technology, USAID is building the capacity of the new IIEC secretariat, designing and implementing a new election results management system, providing communication equipment, and supporting civic education.

Voter registration is key to a healthy democracy. People need to know that their votes count.