The use of modern, secure liveness and real-time biometric identification verification technologies can improve voting processes, speed up voting at voting stations and enable people to vote remotely from their personal smart devices, biometric and identification technology company iiDENTIFii founder and CEO Gur Geva says.
The use of technology can make voting much easier and quicker, thereby broadening the inclusivity and the legitimacy of the vote, he tells Engineering News.
“Firstly, biometric identification systems can improve voting at voting stations and reduce the costs and administrative effort required, while also improving voting security.
“Secondly, these systems can help to enable the 20% to 30% of people who are entitled to vote but do not vote, owing to various reasons, including the length of queues at voting stations, travel costs or earnings opportunity costs, to cast their vote remotely, securely and only once,” he says.
iiDENTIFii’s biometric authentication system uses a four-dimensional liveness and identity verification process. This is done to ensure the person using the system is who they say they are, is present at the time and that a replicated video or animated photo is not being used.
“Our system checks that the person is present in three-dimensions, meaning we check that they are not a still image, an image that has been generated by a fraudster or a prerecorded video. We use a unique sequence of lights each time the user interacts with the system to ensure they are present at the time of onboarding, and not a prerecorded video or animation,” Geva explains.
The technology triangulates biometric data points with those extracted from an identity document and then matches these with the data in the Department of Home Affairs' database to provide a “triangle of trust”.
Further, to ensure that no personally identifiable information is exposed, the person's facial-template, after a person's identification has been verified, is converted into a biometric hash. This biometric hash, which is a uniquely encoded and anonymised digital certificate, is then used for each person to cast a vote.
“This means that, even if the database is breached, there will not be any exposure of a person's political voting behaviour, as no biometric hash can be linked back to a person. The data is also deleted once the process [national, provincial and local elections voting] is complete.”
The biometric information needs to be protected and then the identity of individuals associated with that information must be protected. Privacy and security are inextricably tied to identity management, he emphasises.
“However, auditors, vote observation officials and independent authorities can check that each use of the voting application converts to only one biometric hash, which is then used to cast only a single vote,” Geva points out.
Further, the fact that these processes are digital means auditors and vote monitoring officials can audit a dramatically higher percentage of the votes being cast, he adds.
Biometric voting systems can be rolled out to augment existing voting processes as part of a transition, he notes.
“Biometric-enabled voting can greatly improve the inclusivity, accuracy and authenticity of the vote results, as it uses a data-driven approach to ensure everyone votes and votes only once, and can vote remotely,” Geva says.
Additionally, voting officials can use smart devices to help elderly people or those with disabilities to vote securely from their homes.
The smart device biometric voting system is intuitive and easy to use, which means that its use may reduce the need to send councillors to help elderly and disabled people cast their votes, he adds.
“Other benefits also come to the fore, such as eliminating potential voter intimidation at voting stations and dramatically reducing the time people need to cast their votes.
“Once the process is demystified and voters understand the robustness of the system, they are more likely to participate and increase the level of representation of election results.
“Africa needs to attract investment to develop and, while it is attractive based on the potential opportunities in its markets and its youthful population, stable governments and political systems are central to a good investment climate,” says Geva.