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Biometric verification system fails to distinguish identical twins in Ghana local elections

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections  |  ID for All
Biometric verification system fails to distinguish identical twins in Ghana local elections
 

One identical twin who showed up at a polling station to cast her ballot during Ghana’s district level elections (DLEs) on December 19 was turned away after the biometric verification system in place adjudged her as having already voted.

In reality, the biometrics that had been verified by the system were those of her identical twin sister who earlier voted at the same polling station, according to a report by Ghana Web.

The incident happened at a polling station in the Greater Accra Region, the outlet indicates, citing some residents who expressed dismay over the development.

The head of the polling station is also reported have expressed surprise over the incident, saying they thought at first sight that it was a case of someone trying to vote twice.

Some residents around the polling station who know the twin sisters wondered that the second identical twin failed the biometric verification test, which raises questions about the challenge of identifying similar faces using facial recognition systems.

Distinguishing like faces, such as those of identical twins, still poses a big challenge for facial recognition systems, expert say. But that appears not to be the case with voice recognition. In 2021, some researchers from the Ontario Tech University in Canada shared results of a study with Biometric Update which demonstrated that voice biometric systems can differentiate the voices of identical twins.

Biometric verification to catch double voters

In the meantime, Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) had said ahead of the polls that it was introducing biometric voter verification technology to put an end to incidents of double voting which have rocked general elections in the past.

The biometric voter verification system comes to replace a manual fingerprinting system used to verify voters in previous voting exercises, Modern Ghana narrates.

EC Chairperson, Jean Mensah, had told Ghanaians that the new system is intended to prevent double-voting, which is one of the commonest forms of electoral fraud in the country.

Mensah explained how the system works, noting that once a voter’s fingerprint and face biometrics have been verified at a polling station, it becomes impossible for them to come back as a new voter to try to cast a ballot.

Meanwhile, voting for the DLEs is continuing today December 21 in some electoral areas in the Ashanti and Eastern regions. The EC said in a press statement posted to its Facebook page that the polls were rescheduled “due to a number of technical challenges.”

It is likely that these “technical challenges” alluded to by the EC involve biometric verification failures.

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