National Security Minister Peter Bunting is seeking to clarify his position on a proposal to use the voter identification database for crime fighting. Speaking at a function in Hanover last week, Bunting said Parliament should examine the law which prohibits the electoral database from being used to solve crime. He added that he hoped the opposition would support the move.
Kyrgyzstan, as I have detailed before, is using a new biometric registration system for voting in the upcoming parliamentary election, scheduled for October 4. The law making registration — which requires submission of a fingerprint, photo and signature — mandatory in order to vote was recently upheld as constitutional by the Constitutional Chamber of Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court. The precise substance of the decision is unknown, but one of the human rights activists, Toktaim Umetalieva, who filed the claim against the mandatory biometrics law told AKIpress that “the decision was made in nobody’s favor in fact. That is, the Chamber recognized [the] constitutionality of the law on biometric registration, but ordered the Parliament to rework the law in terms of a precise formulation of goals and objectives, mechanisms and criteria. In such case the law can be changed significantly.” The court’s decision on the constitutionality of the law was preceded by the summer ousting of the judge originally tasked with the case after she was accused of revealing her views on the biometric data law – that it was unconstitutional – before making her ruling public.
A date for Kyrgyzstan parliamentary election has been set (October 4) and parties are gearing up for the campaign (which starts September 4). The election is much anticipated by regional observers because it should be, unlike most other regional elections, an actual race. The world will also be watching because the country plans to debut the use of a controversial biometric registration program in the election–specifically the use of fingerprints to verify identity before voting. The program is controversial due to concerns about the right to privacy of Kyrgyz citizens and the possible de facto disenfranchisement of any who refuse to submit fingerprints.
Nigeria: Will Card Readers Work? Electoral Commission Responds To Concerns Over Voter Disenfranchisement, Delays | IB Times
Fears were mounting this week in Nigeria about whether polling places’ voter card readers would work correctly during Saturday’s presidential election. Several politicians had expressed concern that mechanical malfunctions could lead to disenfranchisement, but the Independent National Electoral Commission promised stakeholders Tuesday that the card readers would not fail. “I want to assure all prospective voters in Ebonyi that no person with Permanent Voter Card (PVC) will be denied the opportunity to vote,” said resident electoral commissioner Lawrence Azubuike, according to Vanguard. “Once the PVC is verified and certified correct, even if the authentication of the voter’s fingerprint does not go through, the voter will still go ahead to vote.”
Nigeria: What other African elections tell us about Nigeria’s bet on biometrics | The Washington Post
Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy and home to almost 180 million people, will hold elections on March 28, a six-week delay after its initial date. While international commentators focus debate on the Boko Haram crisis and the risk of electoral violence, another novelty in this 2015 election has gone relatively overlooked: the use of new biometric voting technology. Every Nigerian voter is supposed to receive a permanent voter card, which stores biometric information such as fingerprints and facial image. At the polls, the voters will present their cards and a voter card reader will verify their name on the voter roll and the authenticity of the card.
Fingerprints can now be used to unlock smart phones, car engines, even guns. Why not ballots, too? A New Mexico legislator has just proposed that his state’s election officials study the feasibility of a biometric voter identification system. The idea is simple enough: Rather than require voters to show a particular type of document that not everyone possesses, the law could require election officials to collect a piece of information — a finger image or an eye scan — from all voters, which would confirm their identity at the polls. The political appeal of the idea is clear: Republicans would have the ID laws they claim are needed to protect against voter fraud. And Democrats would have a system that doesn’t disproportionately hurt minorities and the poor. Both parties could declare victory in the war over voter ID and move on.
Korea posted a record high early voter turnout in part due to technologies such as electronic voting, adopted at ballot stations nationwide. Various political agenda ― from the Sewol ferry sinking and education, to public welfare and security ― have driven mostly those in their 20s and 30s to vote in advance. But the record turnout of 11.5 percent during the two-day period last week was partly attributable to a connected system allowing more than 3,500 polling stations to rapidly cross-check voters’ identities with a centralized database. Given that the database stored information of eligible voters, constituents were able to quickly and comfortably cast their ballots anywhere by either showing identification cards or having their fingerprints scanned.
Burma’s National ID Cards grant relative freedom of travel, allow voting in national elections, access to official schools. Denied for decades basic government services, villagers in Karen State view Burma’s National ID Card scheme with a mix of confusion, indifference, and even fear. Some of the Karen interviewed for this story, referred to the government issued cards as ‘Burma ID cards’, indicative of how they distrust the central government after over six decades of civil war. “I got an ID card many years ago, because I couldn’t travel without one. Authorities would ask for money if they stopped you and you didn’t have one, and if you didn’t pay you would be in trouble.” Naw Thae Nay, a villager, said. “We lived in a mountainous area on the border, but needed the ID cards whenever we decided to travel to town. When I had the ID card, I felt like there is more freedom for me to travel and more freedom to get into a job. Also, if we don’t have ID card our kids will not be allowed to study in government schools.” But applying for an ID card raises it’s own concerns.
Yesterday’s fascinating New York Times deep dive into partisan money networks, state legislative elections, and the resulting policy outcomes really underlines the sometimes-complex relationship between campaign finance regulations and effective disclosure: “Not unlike a political version of Cayman Islands banks, the networks allow political strategists to sidestep regulations and obscure the source of funds. Campaign contributions that would be banned or restricted in one state can be sent to a state where the rules allow money to flow more freely, often scrubbed of the identity of the original donor. Some groups work behind the scenes to orchestrate ‘money bombs’ of smaller contributions from hundreds of different donors, allowing the groups to provide candidates with large doses of cash — fingerprint-free — even in states with low contribution limits.” Under current constitutional doctrine — and, really, this has been true since the 1970s, well before Citizens United and other recent court cases — regulations are generally incapable of preventing big money from ending up wherever it wants to go. What regulations can do is disrupt the way money is raised by candidates and parties, forcing political actors to innovate to gain access to funds.
Namibia is planning to use a biometric voter registration system for its upcoming election and the country’s electoral commission has just launched the machine it will be using to enroll voters. According to a report in The Namibian, the machines were manufactured in South Africa, and consist of a laptop, fingerprint scanner, camera and signature and barcode scanner. Voter registration starts on January 15 and ends on March 2 next year. Altogether there are 904 machines as well as generators and back-up kits for emergencies.
Maldives: Election official says holding Maldives presidential election on Saturday ‘becoming hopeless’ | The Washington Post
Holding the Maldives’ presidential revote on Saturday as scheduled is becoming “hopeless” because two candidates have not endorsed the register of voters as the Supreme Court mandated, the elections commissioner said Friday. Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek told the Associated Press that two of the three candidates have not signed the list by the deadline set by the commission and now he is running out of time to dispatch officials and ballot papers for voters overseas. The Supreme Court annulled the results of a Sept. 7 presidential election and ordered a revote, agreeing with a losing candidate that the voters’ register which was used had made-up names or listed dead people.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has decided to take action against those who defied clear instructions to use approved magnetic ink for thumb impressions of voters on counterfoil of ballot papers, The Express Tribune has learnt. The decision was taken after the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) apprised the commission that instead of the specified magnetic ink required for biometric verification, regular ink was used during polling in two National Assembly constituencies of Karachi, NA-256 and NA-258. While post-election tribunals are hearing complaints of rigging, the tribunal dealing with Karachi region sent a record of the cast votes at some polling stations to Nadra for verification. In NA-256, 57,000 ballot papers could not be verified because the thumb impressions on these ballots were marked with regular ink. Of those that could be verified, there were 5,893 duplicate or multiple votes cast. Over 11,000 used counterfoils had invalid CNIC numbers written.
A controversial biometric project in India, which could require people to produce their biometric IDs to collect government subsidies, has received a significant setback from the country’s Supreme Court. The court ruled this week in an interim order that people cannot be required to have the controversial Aadhaar identification to collect state subsidies, even as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the government agency that manages the project, has been trying to promote the Aadhaar number as proof of identity for a variety of services including banking. The UIDAI has said that the scheme is voluntary, but some states and agencies have attempted to link the identification to the implementation of programs such as cash subsidies for cooking gas that benefit even the middle and richer classes. “I signed up for Aadhaar only to ensure that I continue to get a gas cylinder at reasonable rates,” said an executive in Bangalore who had queued up a few months ago for an Aadhaar number. The state of Maharashtra, for example, aims to be the first state in the country to roll out Aadhaar-linked subsidy transfers to LPG (liquified petroleum gas) consumers across all the districts in the state. Pending a final order, the court ruled that “….no person should suffer for not getting the Adhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory….” UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani did not immediately agree to discuss the court order.
Thirteen-year old Mohammed Al-Badwi smiles as he poses in front of a camera at his school. He is part of a test-run for the soon-to-be implemented electronic registration system for future parliament and presidential elections. Proponents of the technology say that an electronic system, as opposed to the manual registration used now, will assist Yemen as it transitions to democracy. The computerized system is scheduled to be implemented in September, and proponents say it will make the process more efficient and eliminate the risk of fraud. A voter’s data is entered into a computer and a photo of the voter is taken, along with his or her ten fingerprints, electronically. The system utilizes scanners, digital cameras, finger recognition devices and computers, Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum head Mohammed Al-Hakimi said. The process, proponents say, allows those monitoring to recognize if someone has already registered or voted.
After Nicolás Maduro narrowly won Venezuela’s presidential election on April 14th, his chief opponent, Henrique Capriles, immediately disputed the result. Two months later, the government is still struggling to put the issue of its legitimacy to rest, both at home and abroad. The latest attempt came this week from the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena. She claimed that a laborious audit of the tallies produced by electronic voting machines against the paper receipts that correspond to each vote had confirmed that Mr Maduro had indeed won by 1.49 percentage points.
Venezuela’s Electoral Council has completed an audit of results from April’s bitterly contested presidential election, and as expected it confirmed Nicolas Maduro’s 1.5 percentage-point victory. No government official appeared publicly to comment on the outcome, but an official at the council confirmed on Sunday a report by the state-run AVN news agency that the audit supported the official vote count. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to divulge the information. The opposition has complained that the council ignored its demand for a full recount. That would have included not just comparing votes electronically registered by machines with the paper ballot receipts they emitted, but also comparing those with the poll station registries that contain voter signatures and with digitally recorded fingerprints.
The head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan, called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court to probe the thumbprint impressions of ballots of four National Assembly constituencies to ascertain the rigging trend in the May 11 polls. While addressing via a video-link a gathering of party workers at D-Chowk, Islamabad, Imran said that it is the duty of the chief justice and chief election commissioner to listen to the “hue and cry” raised by people who believe that the results of 25 to 30 constituencies were manipulated.
The Administrative Court for the State Council rejected a lawsuit on Tuesday that demanded a thorough review of the electoral register, the use of an electronic vote-counting system and replacing the use of a fingerprint to cast a vote. Judge Sami Darwish, vice-president of the State Council rejected the lawsuit that called for removing the names of people who died, policemen and soldiers from the electoral register, according to state-run Al-Ahram.
Venezuela: Does Capriles Have a Plausible Claim, or Is He “Venezuela’s Sore Loser”? | Venezuelanalysis.com
Reuters reported Sunday that the president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena has criticized opposition candidate Henrique Capriles for not presenting proof to back up his claims of fraud (also the focus of our post earlier today): “We have always insisted that Capriles had the right to challenge the process,” Tibisay Lucena, president of the electoral council, said in a televised national broadcast. But it is also his obligation to present proof.” She dismissed various opposition submissions alleging voting irregularities as lacking key details, and said Capriles had subsequently tried to present the audit in very different terms than the electoral council had agreed to.
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has rejected official plans for an audit of the presidential vote that he narrowly lost to Nicolás Maduro this month. Capriles is calling for a fresh ballot, but this is certain to be refused by senior ruling party officials, who have threatened to have Capriles arrested for allegedly colluding with the US to foment unrest. The government detained 270 protesters during clashes that followed the disputed vote on 14 April. On Thursday it held an American film-maker who was accused of working for US intelligence to sow discord among students.
After fourteen years of Hugo Chávez’s personalist leadership, Venezuelans took their first steps into a brave new world of political contestation on April 14 when they elected a president to fulfill Chávez’s term. The fireworks that marked the aggressive campaign are, in a sense, still going off. The unexpectedly close special presidential election between interim president Nicolás Maduro and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, with a difference of 1.8 percent of the vote (or 272,865 votes), was followed by postelection turmoil in the streets and opposing international calls for either a vote recount or immediate recognition of Maduro’s slim victory.
Kenyan elections have been underway for slightly more than 24 hours, and the much-touted voting technology, or lack thereof, has been at the center of attention. Within hours of the opening of the polling centers, reports from around the country announced the failure of the biometric voter identification system. This technology, which recorded voters’ fingerprints and other biographical data during the voter registration process, was meant to then identify registered voters on Election Day, using Kenyans’ individual biometric identity information. Due to a number of problems, including power outages, low battery life of the devices and polling officials’ difficulty accessing the central system, however, many stations had to resort to using the manual register.
Violence has flared on election day in Kenya, with at least 13 people killed in co-ordinated attacks on the coast. A group of 200 Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) secessionists armed with guns, machetes and bows and arrows set a trap for police before dawn, killing five officers, the Kenyan police inspector general, David Kimaiyo, said. One attacker also died. A second attack by secessionists in nearby Kilifi killed one police officer and five attackers, Kimaiyo said. A Kilifi police official, Clemence Wangai, said seven people had died in that assault, including an election official. The separatist group denied any responsibility for the attacks, however. “We are not responsible for any attacks anywhere in this region,” the MRC spokesman Mohammed Rashid Mraja told the Reuters news agency, adding that the group only sought change through peaceful means. Kenya is facing a huge test as it seeks to avoid a repeat of the ethnic violence left more than 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displaced following the 2007 election. Officials, candidates and media have made impassioned pleas for peace this time.
The Electoral Commission (EC) says no voter was allowed to cast his/her ballot without undergoing biometric verification. It said upon being served with the further and better particulars by the petitioners on 11,916 polling stations where alleged irregularities took place, it examined and analysed its records, adding, “the analysis confirmed that, no voters were allowed to vote without verification at any polling station.” In an amended response filed at the registry of the Supreme Court on its behalf by its solicitors, Lynes, Quashie-Idun and Co., the EC denied claims that voters were allowed to vote without undergoing verification, adding that voting continued on December 8, 2012 at about 400 polling stations where slowness or malfunction of machines was recorded on voting day on December 7, 2012.
The Election Commission in Nepal has been working on a biometric voters’ registry database and has accumulated 10.9 million eligible voters thus far, Republica reports. So far, registration takes place at the Commission and consists of a fingerprint and a photograph for identity verification. The Commission has been making internal preparations for the next constituent assembly election in the country, including developing a 120-day integrated action plan to ensure all human resource, materials and budget have been accounted for.
Ghana: Despite Some Glitches, Ghana’s New Biometric Voting System Widely Viewed as a Success | TechPresident
Ghanaians went to the polls last Friday to cast their ballots for president. Widely viewed as a poster child for stability and democracy in a region that is fraught by civil war and conflict, the West African country must now decide how to invest its newly discovered oil wealth. The current elections placed the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, 58 (@JDMahama), of the National Democractic Congress (NDC) against Nana Akufo-Addo, 64 (Nadaa2012), of the leading opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). Mahama favors generating wealth by investing the country’s oil revenues in infrastructure, while Akufo-Addo counters that the way to raise the population out of poverty is to invest the money in free primary and secondary education. The average Ghanaian makes $4 per day, with the majority of the population yet to experience the benefits of oil revenues.
Venezuela: US Carter Center: Venezuelan Electoral System one of the Most Reliable in the World | venezuelanalysis.com
The Venezuelan electoral system is the most reliable in the world, because it can be audited and verified at every stage, said Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program. She made the comments while visiting the Panorama publishing house, where she was welcomed by its president, Patricia Pineda. McCoy came to Venezuela a few days ago and observed the mock electoral test of last Sunday (5 Aug 2012) in Vargas state. She noted that the Carter Center is currently discussing whether it will participate as an international observer in the October 7 [presidential] election.
Forget voter ID laws–Venezuela is using thumbprint readers at its ballot boxes. But with President Hugo Chavez facing his tightest re-election race yet, some of his opponents say the devices may scare away voters, adding to fears about the fairness of the vote scheduled for Oct. 7. The country’s electoral council has long used fingerprint scanners at the entrance to polling places to ensure voter identification. But this year, the readers will be hooked to the electronic voting machines themselves. Citizens must press down a thumb to activate the ballot system. Some say they fear that could let the government know how each person votes. “If the thumbprint makes the machine work, how do you know it doesn’t end up being recorded who you voted for?” asked Jacqueline Rivas, a 46-year-old housewife.
Florida: Florida looks ready to repeat many of the same mistakes in how it conducts its elections | Slate
Shortly before the 2000 election, Michael Obregon contacted the Miami-Dade Office of the Supervisor of Elections. Heads up: He had a new address in the city. Where should he go to cast his vote? “I received a letter,” remembers Obregon, “one page, saying I wasn’t eligible to vote because I had a felony on my record.” He takes out the letter—he keeps it in a manila envelope labeled “Vote Problem”—and reads the warning: “The court system has notified the elections department that you are ineligible to vote. Pursuant to statute 98.093, we have removed your name from the voter registration record. You may contact the office of executive clemency.” The problem: Obregon hadn’t committed a felony. Someone had apparently stolen the Bennigan’s bartender’s identity, opened some accounts, and gotten busted. That information churned into the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which alerted the Florida Department of State, which passed the information on to the local supervisor’s office, which kicked the nonfelonious Obregon off the rolls. “I had to send my fingerprints in,” says Obregon, “so I went to the police station, they took them, they sent them in. I got back a copy of my criminal record. It said, ‘There is no felony here.’ ” Thus began a mission to convince state bureaucrats in Tallahassee that he deserved the vote. It’s an ongoing mission. Twelve years later, Obregon still isn’t on the rolls.
The electronic voting kit for the Electronic Voting Registration (EVR) will arrive into the country next week from Canada. Elections Office logistic team leader Major Isoa Loanakadavu confirmed CODE Corporation in Canada would supply the Biometric Voter Registration System (BVRS) under the Biometric Voter Registration agreement between the corporation and the government of Fiji. “The electronic voting kit will be arriving from Canada three weeks prior to the launch on July 3,” Major Loanakadavu said. Training on the use of the EVR will begin once the BVRS arrives. “Training will be conducted by representatives from CODE Corporation as part of the contract signed during the agreement,” Major Loanakadavu said. “They will conduct training to trainers. These trainers will then be deployed to centres to conduct training on the selected personnel (1118 personnel) prior to the actual deployment for the EVR.”