Biometric Polling Gets Bumpy Start in Pakistan

Biometric Voter RegistrationA test-run for biometric polling has concluded in Pakistan’s Haripur NA-19 constituency, and the results are not great. The biometric machines used were able to correctly identify only 46 percent of participating voters.

Conducted as part of a by-election, the project was meant only to test the waters of biometric polling. According to NADRA, the country’s National Database Regulatory Authority, part of the reason for the low success rate is the lack of voters’ fingerprints in the NADRA database – a crucial issue that is currently being taken very seriously in the Philippines, where the government’s election commission has been conducting a massive effort to get all eligible voters’ biometric data registered in anticipation of next year’s election, which will be conducted with biometric polling. But in the case of Haripur NA-19, there were also problems related to invalid Computerized National Identity Cards and the roughness of some voters’ fingers, often a product of manual labor and a problem in fingerprint scanning when fingers are too calloused.

Despite the low success rate, an official report from the Election Commission of Pakistan recommended that further pilot projects go forward in other by-elections, with an aim to improving outcomes until biometric polling can be done on a larger basis. The ambition ties in with what appears to be a broader interest in exploring the uses of biometric technology on the part of Pakistan’s government.

Source: The Express Tribune

August 25, 2015 – by Alex Perala