Afghanistan approves $15M purchase of 17,865 biometric devices for upcoming elections

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Afghanistan approves $15M purchase of 17,865 biometric devices for upcoming elections

Afghanistan’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has approved funding to deploy biometric devices to ensure the integrity of the country’s upcoming presidential elections, TOLOnews reports.

In an emergency meeting, the National Procurement Commission (NPC) approved the acquisition of 17,865 devices requested by the IEC, along with printers, paper, and power banks. Both publications say the biometric devices and accessories will cost €14.14 million (US$15.86 million).

The IEC says it is also reforming Afghanistan’s voter registries. Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan Head Naeem Ayubzada notes that no biometric technology can overcome problems on the voters’ lists.

The IEC had previously allocated $30 million to purchase biometric identity verification devices, while in negotiations with multiple companies.

DERMALOG devices have been previously used for elections in Afghanistan, and are expected to be used in the presidential elections, but it is unclear if the additional devices will also be supplied by the company. There were widespread allegations of fraud and vote-rigging following the national elections held with DERMALOG biometric devices last October.

“The company itself is cooperating with us, the company undertakes training to us, particularly to those who will work as our trainers in the elections,” IEC member Habib-Ur-Rahman Nang said, according to TOLOnews.

The NPC believes the IEC needs a total of 39,000 devices for the election, which is scheduled for September 28, according to Khaama Press. The NPC says the government supplied 20,000 devices to the IEC for the previous parliamentary elections.

DERMALOG supplied about 24,000 devices to the IEC last year, but at least 5,000 were reportedly lost or stolen. This and other challenges led the IEC to decide against using biometrics for the presidential election, which it was immediately asked to reverse by candidates from several parties.

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