Malaysian government weighs biometric options for elections

The Malaysian government is actively considering swapping out its existing indelible ink system for its voter verification exercises for a new biometric thumbprint alternative.

Reported in The Star Online, a Federal minister made comments alluding to the potential technology acquisition and said an Election Committee will be formed soon.

Having used the old indelible ink for so long, there has been some resistance to the potential new system. Reported in the Sun Daily, the Center for Public Policy Studies director Ng Yeen Seen said any policy before implementation needs proper analysis and a pilot study before execution.

“We have lots of good plans, but when it comes to implementation, we are not ready most of the time; we need to know how this biometric system will be carried out and be able to see a holistic plan,” Seen said in the Sun report.

Around the world, and particularly in emerging economies, biometrics are a part of the election experience.

Reported previously, the Nepalese Election Commission recently ended its biometric voter registration period and has announced the total number of voters in the registry is 12.1 million.

In December, 2012, Ghana held an election using biometric verification devices as the world watched with baited breath. Now, nearly six months after the country’s election, results are still being contested, following much confusion over the status of verification machines during and after the election in Ghana.

Also, following an election in Kenya using biometric verification, the machines were heavily criticized for technical problems which led to long delays and in many cases, non-functional verification devices. 

As of yet, it is unclear if the Malaysian government is in negotiations with any particular contractors for the biometric technology, or if service providers have become a part of the equation yet.

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