In the developing nations, such as those primarily found in Africa and Asia, the fundamental right to vote and being counted as a citizen in the eyes of citizen’s own government is a freedom which is now being greatly cherished.
Thus, the adoption and embracement of an e-voting infrastructure is very high in these geographic regions. But, in the developed nations such as those found in Europe and particularly in the United States, the right to vote and other freedoms we enjoy (which have been endowed to us by our Constitution) are liberties which we have enjoyed for quite a long time, and therefore, take for granted.
This is so because to some degree or another, we know that as United States citizens, we will be recognised in the eyes of our government, and at least from a theoretical perspective, we do have some assurances that our vote will be counted and tabulated in the final results for the respective candidates.
Therefore, as a result, the need for a one hundred percent adoption of an e-voting infrastructure is not there. This is not to say that e-voting does not exist in the United States. It does, but it is widely dispersed across the states. In other words, there is still a strong blend of the traditional methods being used as well as e-voting.
To conclude this article series, we look at a case study which examines the deployment of an e-voting infrastructure in the African nation of Mozambique. This system was deployed in full by Innovatrics, SRO, a leading biometrics vendor based out of Slovakia.
Innovatrics and Mozambique
In June 2007, the Secretariado Tecnico da Administracao Eleitoral (also known as the STAE) which is a division of the Mozambique National Electoral Commission, recognised the need to enrol the country’s citizens using a unified and electronic procedure.
In their elections, the country has suffered from a tremendously high rate of voter fraud. But because the nation’s population is greatly spread out, and even difficult to locate because of the daunting terrain, other requirements have persisted in revamping their current voting processes. Some of these are:
- The use of 3,500 mobile devices which could enrol Mozambican citizens who are located in the desolate, rough terrain.
- Technical support would be needed throughout all the capitals of the nation’s eleven provinces.
- Have the ability to print out a voter list at the local polling stations.
- The implementation of a centralised, national database which would contain the records of all the voting citizens.
- The overall need to deploy an e-voting infrastructure which would greatly reduce the cases of voter fraud and from the citizens casting multiple votes at different polling stations. This would call for the separate implementation of an end to end Biometric Analysis and Capture System (also referred to an AFIS based infrastructure).
Although the government of Mozambique chose to partner with a locally based company to deploy the biometrics in their soon-to-be implemented e-voting infrastructure, Innovatrics was called upon to provide the actual biometrics-based solution. This primarily involved the usage of their ‘ExpressID AFIS’ biometrics solution. There were other components involved as well, and they included the following:
- An ‘IDKit PC’ Software Development Kit (SDK) to provide for both the registration and authentication functionality in the country’s new e-voting infrastructure.
- The actual biometric hardware, which were the 320LC fingerprint recognition scanners provided by Cross Match Technologies.
- The mobile registration units consisted of USB scanners as well as miniature fingerprint recognition systems.
- Other computer related hardware which included the usage of Hewlett-Packard based servers as well as the Oracle 11g database (this is used to store all the biometric templates and conduct duplication checks amongst the citizens).
- The use of ASP.Net to further develop the software applications which would be used to help the citizens have their fingerprints enrolled into the fingerprint recognition systems and subsequently be stored in the database.
Because of the implementation of this biometric system into the e-voting infrastructure of Mozambique, over 10 million citizens were registered to vote over an extremely short period of time, and an electronic-based voter roll was also created for use in the future elections. The use of this particular biometric system ensured that each and every voter is unique in the system, thus greatly curtailing voter fraud and the submission of multiple votes by a particular citizen.
Overall, this series of articles has further examined what e-voting is all about, and how biometrics can be used in this kind of infrastructure. The use of biometrics in voting overall is expected to continue to grow, especially in the United States, with the upcoming presidential election coming up in June.
An area of concern here will not be so much foreign interference, but the misuse of deep fakes, a security vulnerability which makes use of sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.
This topic will be fully explored in a future article.
Ravi Das is a Cybersecurity Consultant and Business Development Specialist. He also does Cybersecurity Consulting through his private practice, RaviDas Tech, Inc. He is also studying for his Certificate In Cybersecurity through the ISC2.