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Biometric voter verification for 2020 Brazil elections scrapped to prevent COVID-19 spread

Biometric voter verification for 2020 Brazil elections scrapped to prevent COVID-19 spread

Biometrics will not be used to confirm the identity of voters in upcoming municipal elections in Brazil, ZDNet reports, after consultants advising election authorities in the country said fingerprint scanners could be a vector of COVID-19 spread.

Brazil is the second-hardest hit country in the world by the novel coronavirus, which has already killed more than 75,000 Brazilians. Voting is mandatory, and the 2020 elections are scheduled for November.

The Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) launched the consultation, having collected biometric records from 119 million people in Brazil since it began capturing biometrics into a single database in 2008. The agency plans to enroll the fingerprints of 150 million by 2022.

The consultants from two hospitals and a medical research foundation concluded that sanitizing biometric fingerprint readers after each use is not viable, and that the process may take longer than the legacy signature method of identity verification, raising the risk that large crowds could accumulate.

Electronic voting has been in place in Brazil since 1996, though several allegations of fraud and tampering have been raised over the years.

The TSE is part of the civil identification program (ICN), and is responsible for the unified national biometrics database, and delays to an information sharing agreement have hindered Brazil’s efforts to establish a national digital ID system.

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