Biometric registration system used to curb voter fraud in Kyrgyzstan

October 5, 2015 - 

Kyrgyzstan’s first biometrics-enabled parliamentary election was deemed a success, with just 3-5% of voters reporting technical problems with the biometric voting machines, according to a report by Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.

The move comes a couple months after Japan committed to donating about $6 million worth of biometric technology equipment to aid in a biometric registration project for Kyrgyzstan citizens.

Past Kyrgyzstan elections were plagued with violence and accusations of vote buying. In comparison, this latest election was held in a “calm atmosphere,” said Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) head Tuigunaaly Abdraimov.

Despite this, Ignacio Sanchez Amor, the special coordinator and leader of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that the “procedural shortcomings” in implementing the new biometric voting registration system indicates that there is “need [for] further work.”

Several Kyrgyzstan citizens said they were unable to vote because they had not registered in time to receive their biometric ID cards, which residents needed in order to vote.

Additionally, many voters reported that had to wait two to three hours at certain polling stations before they were able to cast their ballots, according to RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service.

Nearly 2.7 million people were registered to vote after receiving their biometric ID cards, which marks a first for Central Asia. In total, 59 percent of these registered voters were able to cast their ballots in the election.

Voters were given ballot papers only after they underwent an electronic fingerprint check. As electoral officials processed the voter’s biometric data using the machines, an image of the voter appeared on the monitor.

Additionally, the device’s screen flashed red when it detected any irregularities.

As of Monday, with nearly all votes accounted for, officials said the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDPK) has won Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary elections with 27.45 percent of the vote.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.