Alexander’s fingerprint verification recommendation leaves more questions than answers
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Dear Editor,
FINGERPRINT verification to verify voters’ identities before they are allowed to cast ballots seems to be the suggestion of GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander and is certainly worthy of interrogation.

Two issues come easily to the fore: the lawfulness of such a requirement and the processes that this additional layer would require of GECOM polling day staff.

I am sure that Vincent Alexander did not pull this idea out of a hat, so it would be worthwhile for him to lay out the changes to be made to the laws of Guyana to make fingerprint verification mandatory.

Laws can be introduced and amended, and even later challenged by the introducing party to invalidate an election after defeat, but as the adage goes: “Where there is a will there is a way.”

I am confident that legal difficulties can be overcome. This leaves us to identify and refine a process.

Fingerprint identification by a person is a specialised skill and would require thousands to be trained to perform the Election Day duty; with 2,000 polling stations this is a challenge.

For the sake of argument, we can assume we can have 3,000 fingerprint experts trained by 2025 (redundancies in case of absence). Of course, there may be a decision to go in the direction of allowing a computerised machine to handle the verification of fingerprints, which would lead to the inevitable cries of “hacked” elections. Lest we dismiss this possibility, we can point to the AFC press conference of 2020 when Cathy Hughes claimed the Russians had hacked our paper and pencil elections.

I cannot foresee the acceptance of computer verification any more so than electronic voting machines; the mistrust (rightly so) of computer systems and their vulnerability to hackers precludes their introduction into the electoral process. How then would our fingerprint experts operate in the polling station environment?
Editor, we can assume that the potential voter will have his fingerprint scanned and compared to the one associated with the name on file, and various electronic devices would need to be introduced into the process at this point.

It is important to note that the current process has no electronic devices use incorporated at the place of poll. In the spirit of things, we move along with the introduction of a scanner and laptop for our fingerprint experts and place them into the polling station; the positioning would have to allow the parties’ polling agents to observe the fingerprint expert at work to ensure the integrity and that he/she is not engaged in any shenanigans.

I must confess to having no clue as to how much time will be required by a fingerprint expert to scan, compare and verify an elector, but we can assume that the voters will be patient with the additional wait in the name of democracy.

Editor, all that is left is for Vincent Alexander and other proponents of “fingerprints” to do is answer a few more pesky questions, and chief among them is what happens if no fingerprint expert is available at a polling station, and what happens when a voter becomes disenfranchised by a fingerprint expert, but can prove his/her identity by every other method beyond question?

I can only imagine the ruckus some uncles would make in that event. Up next, the suggestion that voters take photos with GECOM staff and party agents after casting ballots.

Yours sincerely,
Robin Singh

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