Afghanistan electoral commission reports progress updating biometric devices

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The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan says that the process of installing new software for biometric elections-control devices has been completed for eight provinces, Tolo News reports.

IEC officials say more than 100 employees have been assigned to the software upgrade project, which allows the devices to detect duplicate fingerprint verification, and therefore spot attempts to vote multiple times.

“We are trying to resolve this defect. We are checking the biometric devices one by one which are supposed to be sent to the provinces,” said Mawlana Mohammad Abdullah, an IEC commissioner.

The head of the IEC secretariat told reporters that process of transferring equipment and training people on it will be completed on September 11, ahead of the September 28 election, according to Tolo News.

A steady stream of criticism about the process behind implementing biometric checks continues, however.

“Unfortunately, the commission escaped from the responsibility till the end of the issue despite there is time to finalize their plan about checking this,” says Yusuf Rasheed, CEO of advocacy group Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan. “Even now the shortcoming we have is the lack of a specific plan to determine the use of the biometric system.”

The IEC says that 2,000 individuals have been trained on the biometric devices from Dermalog, and indicates that they are expecting them to operate at 5,373 polling centers across the country.

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