Biometric Polling Underwhelms in Initial Field Tests

Biometric polling was employed on trial basis in some of the polling booths during the by-elections in Haripur. Election Commission of Pakistan has revealed details regarding the efficiency of the experiment and whether the biometric machines were successful enough to identify thumb impressions of voters before they were allowed to cast votes.

According to the ECP report, 46 percent of the voters who attempted verification were successfully verified while 54 percent of the verifications failed. The report quotes that some of the reasons for the failed verifications were unavailability of fingerprints in the NADRA database, invalid CNIC, blocked CNICs and rough fingers which resulted in poor print impressions.

The whole operation was performed as a pilot project. The experiment did not affect the electoral process and was only used to test the functional prowess of the new technology. The report recommended the use of the technology in multiple future pilot projects during different by-elections to assess the success rate and efficiency of the machines up until the verification rate reaches 100 percent excluding any technical or operational failures.

Also Read: First Time in Pakistan, ECP Holds Election with Biometric Verification of Voters

In the recent Haripur elections, a total of 60 biometric machines were deployed and were placed at 60 polling booths in 30 polling stations only. The machines were ordered from a local telecom service provider to be used experimentally.

Total registered voters in these polling stations were 37,924 while votes casted were only 15,723. The turnout where these machines were placed was far less than the overall turnout in the elections. The turnout in these polling stations was only 41 percent.

ECP report states that the prime objective of the experiment, to practically examine on-ground performance of the process and technology and test run of the biometric machines, was successful. It is good to see the use of new technology in elections as it could potentially prevent rigging but the ECP should try to run the experiments with proper preparations so that only technical faults with the machines, if any, cause verification failures and not the incomplete nature of the experiments.

via Express Tribune

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