Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) is moving forward with plans to use biometric devices for the country’s upcoming Presidential election on September 28th. The fingerprint scanners are the same ones that were used in the country’s Parliamentary election last October.
That’s also the reason the decision is coming under fire from political observers. An independent investigation revealed that at least 5,000 devices were lost during the Parliamentary election, making people question the utility of the devices and the IEC’s ability to enforce a fair elections process.
“Considering the new structure (of the election commission) and the political situation, we are worried that it will be difficult to have an acceptable election,” said Naeem Ayubzada, the CEO of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan.
“The biometric devices have failed,” added political commentator Rahmatullah Bezhanpoor. “The government and the election commission have a limited time to decide which type of elections to hold, how to manage the elections so that they are better than the parliamentary polls.”
To assuage those concerns, the IEC has announced that the biometric devices will receive a software update and that voters will register all ten fingers (instead of two fingers) to cast their Presidential ballots. However, the IEC does not plan to purchase any new devices, insisting that their current supply will be sufficient even though 5,000 have gone missing.
While biometric technology has already facilitated successful elections in countries like Tanzania and Ghana, Afghanistan is not the first country to struggle with the transition. Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo both completed a rigorous deduplication process when making the switch. Afghanistan may need to take similar steps to restore the public’s trust.
Source: Tolo News
March 26, 2019 – by Eric Weiss