Afghanistan races to train election employees on biometric devices

Nearly 100,000 contracted employees of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan are in training to use biometric fingerprint scanners to prevent duplicate votes in the country’s presidential election September 28, TOLOnews reports. With only five days remaining until the election, critics say not enough time was given for the training, which requires a week.

Pre-election preparations for the biometric deployment and transfer of election materials to polling stations around the country are “90 percent” complete, according to IEC officials.

A TOLOnews reporter verified that the detection of a duplicate biometric capture on one of the devices, which are supplied by Dermalog, which has been assisting with training and a recent update to add deduplication capabilities to the system. IEC IT expert Zabihullah told TOLOnews that the system would show duplicate votes once they are sent to the main server, suggesting that if there are duplicate votes cast, they will have to be excluded during the counting process.

There will be nearly 40,000 biometric devices in use at 21,000 polling stations and 4,900 polling centers on election day.

“Our programs have been completed by almost 90 percent. We will finish the training on September 27 and the [new] appointments will be completed within the next two days,” said IEC spokesperson Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi. “But there are some security concerns.”

Ibrahimi also said that election materials have been sent to 127 out of Afghanistan’s 375 districts.

“All election materials will be transferred to provinces within the next two days. Afghan forces are fully ready to ensure the election’s security,” said Ministry of Defense spokesperson Fawad Aman.

According to the IEC, 9.6 million people are registered to vote in the election.

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