Kyrgyzstan has become the first country in Central Asia to implement biometric polling. The technology was used in the country’s just-concluded national election, which international election monitors have deemed to be largely free and fair.
Such “lively and competitive elections” are unusual in the region, according to one Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer quoted in a Radio Free Europe article. But given the election’s surprising outcome – parliament will now feature two new parties, with six represented in total – the biometric polling may have helped to ensure that all voters – and only eligible voters, for the most part – were represented in the process. At the same time, concerns were raised about some shortcomings in how the biometric polling was put into play, with reports of some citizens not having registered soon enough to receive their biometric ID cards, which worked in concert with fingerprint scanners at polling centers, before it was time to vote.
That’s an outcome that the Philippines’ Commission on Elections, or Comelec, is desperately trying to avoid as it pushes to get citizens signed up ahead of next year’s national election, which will be that country’s first to rely on biometric voter authentication. But these are countries with different political cultures; there were other, more serious accounts of voter fraud in Kyrgyzstan’s election that were unrelated to the use of biometrics; and it is perhaps instructive that when the country’s government introduced biometric passports last fall, the move was met by widespread skepticism from a public distrustful of the government.
Source: Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty
October 5, 2015 – by Alex Perala