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Dermalog biometrics catch 88,000 fraudulent votes but no results yet in Afghanistan election

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission has postponed the announcement of results in the country’s presidential election, Reuters reports, though biometric voter verification may yet stave off the chaos of previous elections. The delay is reportedly due to the careful treatment of alleged fraudulent votes by Dermalog and the commission.

“The announcement of the preliminary result will not be announced tomorrow until the technical issues are addressed,” IEC spokesperson Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi said.

Preliminary results were originally due on October 19, but were delayed to November 14 to enable the result to be corroborated by the country’s Dermalog-supplied biometric system.

The IEC says 88,000 votes were identified by Dermalog as fraudulent, and invalidated. Dermalog has found underage voters, duplicate photos, and photos of photos among the records, Inside Over reports in an article which also provides a thorough account of the history behind the contentious vote. The team of leading challenger Abdullah Abdullah is demanding that 137,000 votes, which it says came in late and are fraudulent, be removed as well, according to the report. Dermalog and the IEC are expected to provide an explanation on that count in the next two days.

Afghanistan Times reports that Abdullah’s representatives have called on the IEC to invalidate some 300,000 votes in total, including ones which were flagged for duplicate images. His team also says that 700 of the biometric voter identification devices were lost. Amid the dispute over the eligibility of some votes, Abdullah’s representatives withdrew from the official recount process, according to The Diplomat. The Diplomat also cites reports that the IEC has reported different voter turnout numbers ranging from 1,843,107 to 2,695,890, and that other candidates have also boycotted the recount process.

Inside Over suggests that while the biometric devices have helped, the IEC faces a challenge to restore the faith of the people of Afghanistan.

Politician and women’s rights campaigner Fawzia Koofi says the use of facial recognition should be rethought for future elections in the country, as it impedes women from voting, Yahoo News reports.

“Security and fraud are serious issues, but perhaps there are alternatives like iris scans that are more acceptable to women,” says Koofi, a former deputy parliamentary speaker.

IEC spokesperson Ibrahimi claims the process had improved fraud prevention and transparency, and can be improved in the future.

But Areeq Chowdhury, founder of think tank Future Advocacy, notes that the exercise of democratic rights and religious freedom by women who wear face coverings anywhere in the world could be brought into conflict by mandatory facial recognition systems, and questions the need for “such stringent voter ID requirements for any election in any country.”

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