Cabinet OKs 'Biometric' Voter ID Card, Controversy over Prior-Registration for Voters

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Lebanon's cabinet approved a suggestion to upgrade the citizen’s identity cards into “biometric identity cards”, or what is known as a magnetic voter card, that enables nationals to use their IDs to cast their votes at the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The cabinet meeting which began at 6:30 pm and continued until 9:00 pm at the Grand Serail, convened on Sunday and tackled 38 items on the agenda under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

According to an official statement recited after the session by Information Minister Melhem Riachi, the cabinet approved “upgrading the current identity cards into biometric cards for usage at the upcoming polls,” slated in May 2018.

“The cabinet has also approved a mechanism for electronic registration of Lebanese expats so that they can take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” added Riachi.

However, the government did not reach a decision as for the prior registration of voters which enables voters to cast ballots in their place of residence without the need to move to their hometowns, al-Joumhouria daily reported.

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq told the daily on Monday that it was decided to “update the current identity cards into biometric. This will help have the polls be staged on time. It will be complete after the parliament's approval.”

The parliament is set to convene on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mashnouq added that “current discussions revolve around the possibility of voters to cast their ballots in their place of residence which will be accomplished shall main centers be established for the purpose,” adding that the “dispute is still going on the subject of prior-registration of voters in the electorate outside their hometowns."

For their part, the Lebanese Forces have strongly rejected a “joint” issuance of biometric cards and prior-registration of voters, arguing that “it should either be the issuance of said cards or the prior-registration.”

MP Walid Jumblat, Head of the Democratic Gathering bloc, commented with cynicism in a tweet, he said: “The cabinet has approved the magnetic card, pardon me the magnetized card. Everything has been weighed in order to magnetize bankruptcy.”

But Jumblat has later deleted the tweet.

Comments 1
Missing humble 18 September 2017, 10:52

Very bad decision to link it to next elections