Biometric gizmos fail to verify 54% of voters

Published: August 25, 2015
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Election Commission of Pakistan. PHOTO ECP.GOV.PK

Election Commission of Pakistan. PHOTO ECP.GOV.PK

ISLAMABAD: 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday shared the results of its first pilot project where they used biometric machines to identify genuineness of voters before they can cast their votes.

The poll supervisory body had used the electronic machines which failed to indentify 54% of the voters during the NA-19 (Haripur) by-election held on August 16.  The modern technology was used on experimental basis along with the traditional method.

“As per biometrics readings recorded by Nadra [National Database Regulatory Authority], the biometrically verified voters were 46% whereas not verified voters were 54%. The reasons of not biometrically verified voters were due to non-availability of fingerprints in Nadra database, invalid CNIC [Computerised National Identity Card], blocked CNIC and callused fingers made poor quality that was not recognised by the system,” says the findings of the ECP report shared with the media.

Since the whole exercise was performed purely on the experimental basis, therefore, the impact (positive or negative) of use of biometric machines in bye-elections did not disturb the electoral process, the report added.  The poll body report recommended that the multiple pilot projects using biometrics should be continued in different bye-elections till the achievement of successful rate near to perfection where no legitimate voter would be deprived to get authenticated only because of any technical or operational reason.

The parliamentary committee on electoral reforms had asked the ECP to use biometric machines in the by-election to educate general public about its use in electoral activity.

In NA-19 by-election, a total of 60 biometric machines were used at 60 polling booths in 30 selected polling stations. These electronic machines were obtained from a local telecom service provider for the conduct of its experimental use.

The total number of registered voters in these polling stations was 37,924 whereas the polled votes were 15,723. The turnout in these polling stations was 41%. Of those 15,723 voters biometric machines could identify thumb imprints of only 46% persons.

The ECP report, however, said it has successfully achieved the prime objective of the first pilot project that was to practically examine on ground the overall performance of the processes and procedures carried out during the Test Run of Biometric Machines.

The seat was vacated after PML-N’s Umar Ayub Khan was unseated by an election tribunal.  Babar Nawaz of the ruling party won the polls by securing 116,624 votes against PTI’s Raja Amir Zaman who bagged 78,512 votes.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2015. 

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Crazy Goat
    Aug 25, 2015 - 9:52AM

    Then how Cellular SIMMs were got verified… something is fishy.. Recommend

  • Khan
    Aug 25, 2015 - 10:39AM

    Then why were the non-verified people allowed to vote?? If NADRA did not have their finger print record then they shouldn’t have been allowed to vote!!

    The machines have not failed, it is the corrupt ECP officials who don’t know how to use the machine have filed!!Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Aug 25, 2015 - 1:47PM

    For voting so dhandhli cannot be happened biometric system fails. For all other purposes it is best. Recommend

  • Shuaib
    Aug 25, 2015 - 1:51PM

    @Khan: That’s ridiculous, just because their record isn’t available it doesn’t mean they were rigged votes, it means that NADRA has a massive job to do which is get everyone’s finger prints. Our countrymen seriously need to start thinking rationally and calmly, everyone has the right to vote, no one can take that right and institutional incompetence isn’t an excuse either!! The institution needs to fix itself, NOT THE VOTERS!Recommend

  • karachiite
    Aug 25, 2015 - 2:13PM

    Even Nigeria, a poorer African country can use biometric verification, then surely a richer country with a dire need for this to block rigging can too, we should even spend billions to make this work if we have to, but I dont think they ever wilp, and Shahbaz Sharif will claim that biometric verification will work perfectly by 2050 and ECP officials will keep raking in their salaries. Don’t think this is going to make us happy, we have already lost all hope in you since 80’s.Recommend

  • Hussain
    Aug 25, 2015 - 4:04PM

    They all trying to opt out option of bio-metric with this propaganda of ‘fail to verify’. they all want to keep the existing system in place to protect their interest of riggingRecommend

  • ishrat salim
    Aug 25, 2015 - 5:41PM

    It is NADRAs failing not the failing of biometric system. The same system was used to verify millions of SIMs, why it did not fail then ? If this is the case, then the acclaimed success by the govt of SIMs verification is also NOW doubtful ?

    If the record of finger prints is not available with NADRA then how could the voters were allowed to vote ? This is also against rules & law.Recommend

  • Rizwan Ullah
    Aug 25, 2015 - 9:02PM

    This clearly show the incompetancey of ECP, as well as NADRA, not the biometric system, if one know a little bit if technology then one can understand that taking biometric system a failure is just dumbshit..this system just perform perfectly cause it wont allow anyone to vote untill that person is not registered with NADRA, the statement given by ECP is seriously funny..its a joke.. The system has faild to verify 54 percent of votes bcoz fingerprints were not available in NADRA, dear ECP it doesnt mean the biometric system has faild.. It means NADRA is inefficiant for not registeing people or people who were voting were not registered with NADRA so machines has to block them for voting. Thats the reason why these machines have been deployed.. So a sound mind person will not say this system has faild.. Actually this system done a perfect job .Recommend

  • Azfar
    Aug 26, 2015 - 12:39AM

    How come total registered voters were 37,924 but casted voters were around 200,000 :oRecommend

  • Loimashar
    Aug 26, 2015 - 3:16AM

    I think this is one way to say that the biometric system is not reliable.
    It is widely used across the world. Probably they would like to stick to the manual system to continue with vote manipulation and rigging. Recommend

  • Salman
    Aug 26, 2015 - 7:55AM

    Why are they even scanning finger prints?! Just scan the CNIC as they are machine readable record that vote has been casted against the CNIC and no vote can be casted without CNIC scan, 80% of the rigging is gone as one CNIC can cast one vote only and CNIC scan is must to cast vote so one person can not vote 500 vote as he will need 500 physical CNIC. They are making fool of people by scanning finger prints. Recommend

  • Woz Ahmed
    Aug 27, 2015 - 6:56PM

    @karachiite:
    For infoNigeria is nearly three times richer per head than us.

    http://country-facts.findthedata.com/compare/167-182/Nigeria-vs-PakistanRecommend

  • Ishtiaq
    Aug 28, 2015 - 4:01PM

    If there is no record of finger prints of many voters then their CNIC cards are also fake. How can a person have a genuine CNIC card without finger print scanning.Recommend

  • Greg
    Aug 29, 2015 - 4:06AM

    This is the exact reason why Lumidigm devices should have been used to verify each registered individual.

    Traditional fingerprint sensors are susceptible to surface contaminants. People that actively use their hands for a living, elderly people, dust and dirt can all lead to issues. Lumidigm devices are able to scan beneath the skin of the finger to deliver more reliable fingerprint biometric results across a diverse population. Perhaps this technology should be tested alongside the current sensors to prove this point.Recommend

  • Greg S
    Aug 29, 2015 - 4:20AM

    This is the exact reason why Lumidigm devices should have been used to verify each registered individual.

    Traditional fingerprint sensors are susceptible to surface contaminants. People that actively use their hands for a living, elderly people, dust and dirt can all lead to issues. Lumidigm devices are able to scan beneath the skin of the finger to deliver more reliable fingerprint biometric results across a diverse population. Perhaps this technology should be tested alongside the current sensors to prove this point.Recommend

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