Countries continue to adopt biometric voter verification
Voatz is celebrating awards for its work in expanding voter participation in the United States and elsewhere through its blockchain and biometrics-backed technology that allows people to vote securely from anywhere.
According to a company blog post, Voatz was recently recognized at the World Changing Ideas Awards 2021 and at the 2021 Webby Awards – also known as the ‘Oscars of the Internet.’
The company appeared prominently in three different categories at the World Changing Ideas Awards. It emerged a finalist in the ‘Politics and Policy’ category for its innovative campaigns and policy initiatives that challenge the status quo for the benefit of the environment, equity and society. It was also a finalist in the ‘Experimental’ category, and had an honorable mention in the ‘Apps’ category, the newsletter states.
Voatz said the recognition follows major efforts in the last five years which focused on improving the security of its solution aimed at helping provide access to voters who have either been previously disenfranchised or unable to participate in elections.
The company also notes how during the 2020 general elections in the United States, its mobile biometric voting app enabled voters with disabilities, deployed military personnel, and citizens living abroad, to cast their ballots. Voatz said it was involved in 23 elections that year, and is seeking $10 million funding to drive adoption of its app and web solution.
Pakistan expects biometric voting in next polls
Pakistan’s cabinet has approved an ordinance from President Arif Alvi which calls for the introduction of electronic voting machines with biometric verification, and the possibility for citizens living abroad to participate in national elections, according to local news outlets ARY News and Dawn.
The ordinance, which was promulgated recently following a federal cabinet meeting, amends Sections 94 (1) and 103 of the Election Act 2017, and authorizes the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to procure electronic voting machines (EVMs) before the next general elections statutorily scheduled for the last quarter of 2023. The ordinance also makes it possible for the around nine million Pakistanis who are living abroad and are eligible to vote, too be able to do so.
Giving details regarding the endorsement of the ordinance, Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn it means the ECP has been given the power to procure the electronic voting machines. He said consultancy was also ongoing to finalize proposals on technical issues around the use of biometrics and the digital voting process.
Dawn also reports that some stakeholders including within the ECP have expressed reservations, saying the digital voting project should not be rushed so as not to compromise the integrity of Pakistan’s electoral process. They have also called for a secure technology for the purpose.
Nigeria to allow online voter registration, in person biometrics enrollment
An official of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has said those 18 years or older and those who have not enrolled on voter registers before, can register for the 2023 elections online from next month, according to The Nation.
INEC National Commissioner Festus Okoye said in order to reduce congestion at enrolment centers, people can fill registration forms online before later showing up physically for their biometric capture.
Okoye also called on those who have registered before but have issues with their voter cards, to also show up at registration centers for correction.
Biometric voting system for Papua New Guinea
Talks are underway between the government of Papua New Guinea and the country’s electoral commission to put in place a biometric voter verification system for future elections.
The country has general elections scheduled for November 2022 and this suggestion comes as the government and stakeholders have been brainstorming on ways and means through which they can organize successful polls in a context of the coronavirus pandemic, EMTV reports.
The report adds that the government led by Prime Minister James Marape has directed all Provincial governments and COVID-19 Provincial Control Centers to send forth proposals in this regard.
“Something that we might use to clean up the voting process is biometrics, and an electoral roll that registers electronically, with photographs attached for all our voting populations. This process will be looked into by the Electoral Commission. They have trialed an electronic-based voter update at a council ward… and it worked very well. We will try to expand this in a big way…” another report by Loop quoted Prime Minister Marape as saying.
He added that the planned use of biometrics is to prevent block voting and to continue reforms of the electoral process.
Failure of biometric devices stalls polls in Albania
Problems with biometric machines in Albania disrupted the smooth flow of the voting process in many counties across the country in its recent elections, Euronews Albania reports.
In some cases, the failure of the devices pushed polling authorities to allow manual authentication of voters in line, according to electoral commission guidelines.
The biometric identification system was being used for the first time in Albania’s electoral history, the report mentions.
Meanwhile, in Kyrgyzstan, about 91 percent of citizens above the age of 18 years registered their biometric information with the electoral body for local polls which took place last month, per AKIpress.