Biometric ID Card voting trial in Torba election successful: Report

Lorima Renrentar from Nabqoe village successfully scanned her ID Card before casting her ballot.

The trial of the biometric or National ID Card during the TORBA Provincial election on Mota Island on November 21, 2017 was a success, according to the Trial Election Report issued by the Acting Registrar of the Department of Civil Status, Ettienne Ravo.

“The very successful trial on Biometric voting system during the Torba Provincial Election on the island of Mota, provides a glimpse of a very efficient Election system driven by available technology,” the summary of the Report states.

“As the voting system is put into further trials in the upcoming provincial and municipal elections, deficiencies and gaps will be identified and addressed. It is envisaged that after these trials and tests, the system would be used during the national election in 2020.”

The Report provides some notable outcome results after the trial election. A voter turnout with the results show that over 95% of voters who were issued with a Biometric ID Cards did use their cards during the trial and were successfully scanned by the Biometric Voting System.

The system showed faster in detecting errors and less chances of making them. Although 5 voters (approximately 2%) had their ID cards detected to be at the wrong polling station, they were still able to successfully complete the election process. Their names were manually crosschecked with the printed electoral list and verified to be at the correct polling station.

Faster Authentication — it took less than five seconds to authenticate the personal details of the voters through the Biometric ID Card scanning process. This is by first scanning the primary data information from ‘Register Viz’ (Civil Registry System) then secondly the Electoral list under the Electoral system. Manually verifying personal details through a printed list would become a practice of the past through the Biometric Voting system.

Auto-generated Report – the Biometric voting system is able to provide an automated report at the very instant an ID card is successfully scanned. a. An instant separate voting coverage is displayed indicating total number of voters and its corresponding voting coverage at the very instant a card is scanned. b. An additional report which is automatically generated in the background that can then be exported into an Excel spread sheet where it can be printed for later use. This is especially for further verification and for election dispute management purposes.

“Observations and Recommendations: This is the first ever system that is put into trial after its introduction. Hence the following observations and recommendations are made necessarily to reduce gaps and strengthen the system as it is put into trial elsewhere in order to fully achieve the system’s core objectives.”

The following observations and recommendations are based on the trial made on Mota during the Torba Provincial Election: 1. There is a great need for further and wider awareness on: a. The purpose and use of the Biometric ID card among the remote communities. b. The importance of voting and the individual rights of a citizen under the National Constitution to vote. 2. The Civil Registry and Vital Statistics Department (CRVSD) in collaboration with the Vanuatu Electoral Office (EFO) are to review and strengthen the current processes on updating their respective Registries in relation to creation and issuance of Biometric ID cards.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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