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Governments grapple with biometric voter rolls, Thales reaches 15 deployments

Governments grapple with biometric voter rolls, Thales reaches 15 deployments

Thales has deployed 15 different systems around the world for voter registration and verification with its ID management and biometric technologies, the company said in an announcement. The milestone has been proclaimed just as governments several countries move ahead with biometric voter registration deployments and updates.

The Thales Gemalto Election Suite employs biometrics to ensure “one person, one identity, one vote,” the company explains. It can be used to upgrade existing systems, or to build new biometric electoral registers from scratch.

“Worldwide electoral commissions can rely on Thales to deliver citizens with tailor-made, secure voter registration and verification,” says Youzec Kurp VP of Identity and Biometrics Solutions at Thales. “Our experts are on hand to transfer skills and responsibilities to local partners. Thales election expertise is part of our mission to help build a better, safer, and more sustainable world where everyone has access to a secure and trusted identity.”

Pakistan plans for digital voting system, possibly biometrics

Pakistan’s Minister for Huan Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari has endorsed electronic voting machines (EVMs) as the way to ensure the legitimacy of the country’s elections.

Mazari noted that a parliamentary delegation has visited foreign nations to observe their use of EVMs, and that section 103 of Pakistan’s Elections Act provides an explicit legal basis for the use of EVMs and biometrics by the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP). She also said that the government intends to pass legislation to enshrine the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis.

The ECP, meanwhile, has written to NADRA, which administers Pakistan’s digital ID system, requesting details on why it has chosen to engage the ECP in a contract for a new digital voting system, with a price tag of Rs2.4 billion (US$14 million). NADRA wants the previous system, which the ECP says cost Rs66.5 million ($390,000), replaced to address loopholes and deficiencies, which the ECP asks for details on.

NADRA Chair Tariq Malik says the letter reflects a communication issue, rather than a fundamental disagreement between the institutions. The ID body plans to upgrade Pakistan’s elections infrastructure within a year, and Malik says the use of electronic machines to ensure “one ID, one vote” is not a point of disagreement between political parties.

He also suggested overseas votes would be cast online. This could be carried out with a process including the PAK-ID mobile application for remote biometrics registration recently launched by NADRA.

Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Philippines updates

The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) began distributing the country’s newly-designed voter registration cards this week, The Gleaner reports. The current voter ID cards expire on December 31, 2021.

Kyrgyzstan’s government is reminding citizens that they must register their biometrics to be included on the country’s voters list, ahead of November 28 parliamentary elections, writes AKIpress.

The country also used biometrics for voter verification in 2017 elections, with Elyctis providing document scanners.

Iraq’s government has declared that voter turnout in future elections will be calculated based on how many biometric voter cards have been issued, rather than the total number of eligible voters, Rudaw reports.

The outlet cites polls which suggested that turnout for the parliamentary election on October 10 would be around 30 percent. Roughly two-thirds of the country’s 25 million eligible voters had applied for biometric registration as of May, according to UN stats.

Philippines National Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro tells BusinessWorld B-Side that the regulator has already flagged a website conducting election-related surveys for excessive data collection, and warned Filipinos that their personal data could be misused during the campaign.

The NPC is planning to produce policy advise on fair and lawful data use in elections.

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