Update of biometric voting devices by Afghan officials incomplete as election nears

Several election observers and officials from political parties in Afghanistan say the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has failed to complete the installation of new biometric software to detect individuals casting multiple votes with fingerprint recognition, Tolonews reports.

Representatives of political parties said if the IEC does not explain the issues with the biometric devices, it could indicate the perpetration of a massive organized fraud.

“The commission has failed to provide sufficient information to the candidates and the political parties regarding transparency,” says Humayoun Jarir, a member of the Committee for Political Parties and Political Movements. “I can say with confidence that the application which was supposed to be installed for identifying the photograph and the finger prints has not been installed in biometric devices and it is not connected with the main server.”

IEC officials responded that the process of updating the biometric terminals is still ongoing.

“We are not saying that there are no challenges, but we cannot talk about the challenges that we are not sure about. The technical aspect of election management is on track. All devices have been purchased. We have also studied the issues we have had in the previous elections. Changes have been made when it comes to policy issues,” insists Habiburrahman Nang, head of the IEC secretariat.

Specialists from Dermalog, which provided the devices, have been in Afghanistan since August to help with the software update. The presidential election is scheduled for September 28.

“Only eleven days remain until elections. From a technical perspective, this is very little time to tackle the issue of preparing the servers. The commission should have been prepared before, because now we have very little time, so it is difficult to deal with technical issues,” comments Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) spokesperson Sughra Saadat.

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