India details plans for biometric authentication with different modalities for remote voters

India details plans for biometric authentication with different modalities for remote voters

In an effort to improve the remote voting process and conclusively identify migrant voters, the Election Commission (EC) of India has proposed using Aadhaar biometric authentication through iris and fingerprints, facial recognition technology with in-built liveliness testing, and voice biometric authentication, writes Times of India.

A Cabinet note has allegedly been in the works outlining legal changes so that the EC can connect voter ID to Aadhaar numbers to optimize the process. This would make it easier to identify the voter during and pre-voting, based on the unique Aadhaar ID, according to the report.

Initially, the EC had pushed for a legal change to the Representation of People (RP) Act and Aadhaar Act, however recent legal opinions argue that the Aadhaar Act does not need to be legally changed, and a simple amendment to the RP Act would suffice and offer “statutory backing to EC,” an officer said.

Based on EC’s guidelines, remote voters will have to make their intent of voting remotely clear to the officer so the voting option at their original polling station can be cancelled. The voting process will then take place electronically on a whitelisted computer authorized by EC. With tech advancement, it may be possible in the future to cast a vote “anywhere, anytime and using any device,” an EC officer said.

Three different biometric authentication methods are proposed, one with authentication with Aadhaar biometrics such as fingerprints and iris scans, one is for facial recognition with active liveness detection, and the third would use voice as a biometric modality.

Voters will receive an encrypted electronic postal ballot and a QR code, and voter registration records will be retained through video recording and webcasting, because Aadhaar cannot be used for data storage.

EC is also working on developing a blockchain-enabled controlled environment voting protocol.

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