In the upcoming Telangana urban local bodies polls, the state election commission will use a facial recognition app for verification and real-time authentication of voters at polling stations. Stating that impersonation is noticed during polls, the Telangana State Election Commission (TSEC) said that it will use the technology in select 10 polling stations of the Kompally Municipality of Medchal Malkajgiri district.
“It is likely that there may be number of impersonation cases but have not come to the notice of the election authorities since the real voters may not have come to polling station or may not have demanded for a tendered vote,” read a TSEC statement, adding “the process of identification and authentification of the voter by applying the latest technologies of Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, etc.. are completely driven by the system with full digital trail can help reduce impersonation cases significantly.”
However, this technology is proposed as an additional tool to validate the identity of the voter in addition to the existing procedures prescribed including employing the First Polling Officer as identification officer, use of photo electoral rolls, the insistence of photo ID proof in addition to the personal scrutiny by the polling agents appointed by the contesting candidates, a statement from the TSEC said.
A negative return from this pilot exercise shall not be a sufficient ground to deny voting rights to any voter and it needs to be corroborated by the existing identification systems if that has to be imposed.
The SEC circular also said that an analysis of tendered vote cases recorded during the previous elections revealed that in each of those cases, there was a violation of voting procedure leading to the conduct of re-polls in all those areas.
TSEC Secretary M Ashok Kumar has directed the district election authority Medchal Malkajgiri to arrange 10 new 4G android smart mobile phones (with dual SIM facility) with a minimum specification of 2GB RAM and 4MP camera, and also appoint one additional polling official from the reserved list for each polling stations mentioned above.
Further, the circular also states that photographs taken are not stored or used for any other purpose.
What is the procedure
# The additional polling officer-in-charge of the mobile phone will take the voter’s photo
# He/she uploads the photo to the server using Face Recognition App installed in mobile phones provided to him to compare the same with the photographs of all the voters of the concerned polling station.
# The App displays the result of the verification based on the match established with any one of the voters with an appropriate message.
# This system is not in place of the existing identification system comprising of identification(First) polling officer, photo electoral rolls, the insistence of EPIC/alternate ID document, subjective satisfaction of the polling agents, but an additional aid, that too employed in only 10 selected polling stations on a pilot basis.
# Entire transmission process is properly encrypted and the IDs are anonymized ie; it is a type of information sanitization whose intent is privacy protection. It is the process of either encrypting or removing personally-identifying information from data sets so that the people whom the data describe remain anonymous. The input files(encrypted live photo data) are deleted immediately after the purpose is fulfilled.
# The above process is an additional measure to be implemented in Kompally municipality in Medchal Malkajgiri district for the polling stations number- 13,15,16,21,22,23,24,27,31, and 32 on a pilot basis.
# The normal duties of polling personnel will be intact and there is no deviation because of the implementation of face recognition application in the polling station.
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