Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why the US electoral system should adopt biometric technology

Image: Freedigitalphotos

It is a known fact that the American electoral system is far from seamless. Its many flaws become evident every time there is an election, but nothing is done to address these problems in spite of their recurrence. One of the most controversial issues is the one related to identification at the polling stations and its role in fraud prevention.

According to David Frum, commentator for CNN, “Americans worry more about voter fraud than do voters in other countries, because they are the only country without a reliable system of national identification. In no other country, including federal systems such as Germany, Canada and Australia, does the citizen’s opportunity to vote depend on the affluence and competence of his or her local government.” Frum calls the American electoral system a “disgrace.”

Currently, most of the states of the Union do not require photo identification in order to grant access to everyone to the polling stations. On paper this sounds like a good anti-discrimination policy, but in reality it poses a high risk of electoral fraud. 

Meanwhile, states that implemented have been criticized as championing a tool of disenfranchisement against the poor. As a result, only 55% of Americans are able to vote nowadays. At first glance, the situation looks like a double-edge sword, but in fact the solution is as simple as effective: biometric authentication.

Biometric authentication systems are not a thing of the future: they have already been implemented in countries like Venezuela, Ghana, and Brazil. Even Mexico, one of America’s closest neighbors, has been able to register 95% of its population (77 million people) with the use of biometric identity cards. 

Recently, professor Robert A. Pastor wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times where he stated that implementing a biometric card not only could solve voter fraud but also it could help to tackle the delicate issue of illegal immigration. America faces a true challenge in its crusade to improve its voting process, and biometric authentication could be the first step to correct one of the many flaws that have hindered the Nation from becoming an example of efficiency in electoral administration.