Nadra agreed to provide its data for use in elections for biometric verification of voters


The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has finally agreed to provide its data for use in elections for biometric verification of voters, but only with certain security checks.

The sub-committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms, during a meeting here on Tuesday, approved the “hardware security module” proposed by Nadra for offline verification of voters during polling.

The meeting was presided over by Zaid Hamid, the convenor of the sub-committee and also federal minister for climate change. He told reporters after the meeting that the Ministry of Information Technology had also endorsed Nadra’s security module. Officials of the ministry will meet manufacturers of the hardware on Thursday.

Previously, the authority was reluctant to provide its data for use in elections and had raised a number of questions about the security of the data.

In previous meetings of the committee, officials of Nadra and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had apprised the members about possible technical and legal difficulties in the use of electronic voting machines, voters’ biometric verification and voting by overseas Pakistanis.

Finally during the last meeting of the committee, Nadra Chairman Usman Mobeen had stated that verification of voters through an off-line biometric system was possible but security hardware would be required to secure data preserved in the machines.

Sources said that according to the agreed mechanism, data of voters for each polling station would be saved in separate machines with the software which would encrypt and destroy the data if any attempt was made to copy it or make changes in it.

Mr Hamid said that the sub-committee had received response from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the inclusion of a chapter in the constitution regarding local government elections. Other provinces have been asked to submit their proposals in a week.

He said that the sub-committee had expressed dissatisfaction over a report submitted by the ECP about details of cases in which courts had declared elections null and void. The commission has been asked to submit a new report.

In reply to a question, the minister expressed the hope that the sub-committee would complete its task in two weeks and then submit a report to the main committee for deliberations.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is the head of the main committee which was constituted by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in July 2014 with the task to make recommendations for reforms in the election system to make the process fair and transparent.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2016