The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity

Civil Registration Centre for Development, The Hague and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, Johannesburg

Making Democracy Legible? The Politics of Voter Registration and the Permanent Electronic Electoral List (LEPI) in Benin

The capacity to make its population ‘legible’, through the development of accurate registration and identification mechanisms, is a core component of the infrastructural power of the modern state. In discussing the relationship between democratization and statebuilding, the electoral process as a technical process has received little attention. Yet, the introduction of competitive elections presupposes the registration of voters and thus requires the development of the ‘legibility’ capacities of states. This is particularly evident in Sub-Saharan Africa, where democratizing states have been confronted to the weakness of their existing records and forced to develop new mechanisms for registering voters in a reliable manner. This article looks at the experience of the Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée in Benin, discussing the potentialities and limits of voter registration as a statebuilding tool.

Event reference: 
The Hague Colloquium on the Future of Legal Identity