ECP tests biometric system for voter verification
PESHAWAR: The Election Commission of Pakistan with the support of the National Database and Registration Authority on Saturday tested biometric system for voter verification by holding mock polling in two local councils of Peshawar district.
The mock elections were held in four poling stations, including two for men and two for women, where eight polling booths were set up.
Two poling stations each were established in Budhai village council and Surbilandpura neighbourhood council on the outskirts of the provincial capital.
Besides presiding and assistant presiding officers of the polling stations, senior ECP and Nadra officials also monitored the process of the polling verified through biometric machines.
The exercise was carried out from 8am to 4pm at the request of the provincial government to see whether verification of voters through biometric machine is feasible, according to the ECP officials.
Dozens of voters in the designated four polling stations participated in the trial of biometric machines’ verification. A single biometric machine was installed in each of the polling booth.
Placards and banners were displayed at polling stations with different slogans for creating public awareness of casting vote.
A single voter has to cast seven votes during the elections under the current local government system.
Provincial Election Commissioner, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sono Khan Baloch, Local Government and Rural Development Secretary Hifzur Rehman and other high ups of the Nadra, the ECP and the provincial government also visited the polling stations along with the visiting ECP commissioner.
Talking to reporters at Budhai village council, Provincial Election Commissioner Sono Khan said the Nadra would submit its detailed report on the use of biometric machine to the ECP by Dec 31 and thereafter, the ECP would examine pros and cons of the system before deciding about its use in the elections.
Mr Sono said technical opinion would be sought from all concerned in the ECP and final decision would be taken after that.
Nadra Director Qaboos Aziz told Dawn at Subilandpura polling station for men that initially, verification of voters through biometric machine took 10 to 15 seconds as the polling staff was untrained.
He said the verification time would automatically once the polling staff underwent training.
Mr Qaboos said complete data of voters of the respective area had been fed in the biometric machine installed in the respective polling booths.
“The biometric machine is not verifying the identity of the voters, whose names are not installed in it,” he said.
Another Nadra official said biometric machines couldn’t verify the flat fingers with no ridges.
“Mostly the labourers’ fingers are found flat in the mock election. The biometric machine didn’t verify such fingers. The machine was also unable to verify the fingerprints of women with henna on hands,” he said.
The official said first, the person operating the biometric machine verified right-hand thumb impression of the voter and if the exercise failed, then he tried left-hand thumb impression.
“If the machine fails to verify the left thumb impression, then the person operating the machine goes for the index finger of the right hand and then that of the left hand,” he said.
The official said it was the domain of the ECP to decide about the voters not verified by the biometric machine.
When asked about how the Nadra officials take fingerprints of the people with flat fingers for the production of the computerised national identity cards, he said the authority had very modern and expensive machines, which took thumb impressions using different lotions.