India’s Election Commission could use face and voice recognition to verify the identities of citizens in upcoming elections. The technology is primarily geared toward remote voters who are unable to make it to a polling station in their registered constituency.
To take advantage of the service, voters would first need to notify election officials to let them know that they will not be voting at their local polling station. Those voters would then be able to cast an electronic ballot at one of the remote polling stations that the Commission will set up across the country.
Face and voice recognition (with liveness detection) would be used to authenticate voters at those stations, although they are only two of the potential authentication options. The Commission also proposed Aadhaar authentication through iris and fingerprint biometrics. The Supreme Court of India has previously ruled that Aadhaar cannot be used to withhold voting rights, but the Commission is currently advancing an amendment to the Representation of the People Act that would allow them to link a citizen’s voter ID card to their Aadhaar number.
Either way, the Commission plans to outfit its remote polling stations with standalone, whitelisted voting terminals, although the blockchain technology needed to create that secure environment is still in the Research and Development phase. Once development is complete, the Commission hopes to use the technology to streamline the elections process nationwide and give people more freedom as to where and when they cast a ballot.
“With technical improvements over time, we expect to enable a voter to vote anywhere, anytime and using any device,” said an Election Commission officer.
At the moment, Indian citizens are still allowed to opt out of the Aadhaar program. The Supreme Court has sought to limit its scope to the distribution of government resources like food and social subsidies.
February 21, 2020 – by Eric Weiss