News Brief

Bihar Set To Use Biometric Tech To Prevent Electoral Fraud In Upcoming Rural Polls For First Time In Country

Swarajya Staff

Aug 06, 2021, 10:08 AM | Updated 10:08 AM IST

Representative Image
Representative Image

Bihar will become the first state in the country to harness biometric technology in the upcoming rural polls in order to prevent bogus voting and other electoral frauds.

The state cabinet is expected to approve a proposal by the panchayati raj department to use this technology in the polls that will be conducted in ten phases in October and November.

Voters’ identities will be authenticated through biometric devices and a photograph of each voter taken before being allowed to cast his or her vote. The photograph and other biometric details of a voter, including his thumb impression, will be stored in a cloud.

“This will lead to immediate detection of bogus or multiple voting. For instance, if a voter goes to another booth to cast his vote after having already exercised his franchise in one, an immediate alert will be flashed,” said Bihar additional chief secretary (panchayati raj) Amrit Lal Meena.

In case a polling agent or anyone else raises an allegation of bogus voting or impersonation, the suspected voter (against whom allegations have been levelled) would be asked to furnish his or her Aadhaar card or other identification documents and that would be checked with the voters’ database for authentication immediately.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is said to be keen on implementing this. The notification for the panchayat polls will be out by the end of this month. The state election commission will hold elections in two to three blocks in each district in one phase and complete the polling will be over by November.

Biometric devices, including tabs and other authentication devices, will be installed at all polling booths, said Meena.

Meena dismissed fears that the new system would entail longer waits for voters in a queue. “It takes a couple of minutes at least to physically verify and authenticate a voter’s identity documents inside a booth. The biometric process will be much faster,” he said.

Also, the biometric system requires very less internet speed as the biometric posh machines consume less data. That also addresses critics’ arguments that the machines will not work in rural Bihar where internet connectivity is poor.

Rigging and other electoral malpractices like multiple voting, impersonation etc are common in Bihar and this exercise will curb such violations.

This time, electronic voting machines ( EVMs) will be used for elections to four posts in panchayat bodies while ballot papers would be used for election in two posts of gram kutcheries (bodies having powers to adjudicate and resolve petty disputes at the village level).

The entire exercise, to cost around Rs 28 crore, will be handled by Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL), a public sector undertaking with expertise in providing digital solutions, cyber security and other I-T related projects.

If the exercise is a success, as it is expected to be, it will be extended to all subsequent civic and Assembly polls in the state and would be a foolproof model that can be replicated across the country.

The biometric details--photographs, thumb impressions and individual physical identification marks--of all the voters that will be collected during the conduct of the ensuing rural polls will eventually be stored in a central and permanent database.

After the polling is over, and depending on the outcome of this exercise, the biometric details of all the rural voters who did not cast their votes in the panchayat polls will also be collected by enumerators and fed into the central database.

Eventually, all voters in Bihar will have their details--photos, thumb impressions, physical identification marks, details of his or her documents (voter ID card, Aadhar card, birth and education certificates, passport details etc)--collected and stored in the central database.

This will ensure a fool-proof and fraud-proof conduct of polls. This model will be especially helpful for the Election Commission of India and the State Election Commission to conduct polls in Bengal which is notorious for largescale electoral malpractices and frauds.

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