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Afghanistan electoral commission asked to reverse decision to register voters without biometrics

Afghanistan electoral commission asked to reverse decision to register voters without biometrics

A decision by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) to not use biometrics has been heavily criticized by several mainstream political parties, and multiple presidential candidates have asked the agency to reverse its decision to ensure the integrity of upcoming elections, TOLOnews reports.

The IEC decided the biometric system will not be used, due to a lack of resources and access to biometric technology, and a lack of time in which to deal with these shortages, according to media reports. Amendments to the country’s elections law, however, mandate the use of biometrics to confirm the identity of individual voters.

“We support full use of technology and biometric in the presidential elections and it is a red line of political parties,” Humayun Jarir, member of Hizb-e-Islami party, told the local publication.

Jamiat-e-Islami party officials said that the IEC does not have the authority to eliminate biometric checks from the voting process, and that the decision is politically motivated.

“An election cannot be started by violating the law that legitimizes the process,” said party member Noor Rahman Akhlaqi. Representatives of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan and Hizb-e-Bidar-e-Milli Falah Afghanistan also denounced the decision.

The IEC has said the voter registration process will begin on June 8 without the use of biometrics, but biometric devices will be used on election day. At least 5,000 of some 24,000 biometric capture devices provided by DERMALOG were lost during and after parliamentary elections in late 2018.

Presidential candidates Abdul Latif Pedram, Noorul Haq Ulumi, Ahmad Wali Massoud and Mohammad Haneef Atmar all say the use of biometrics is necessary to prevent elections fraud, and TOLOnews reports that it was suggested that the decision was intended to “engineer the upcoming polls” to benefit certain candidates.

“What will be the next option if we ignore the use of biometric system? What is the alternative? I want to see it. All election teams should make a joint decision in order to have a transparent and fair election,” Massoud says.

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