KABUL (Pajhwok): The Germany-based Dermalog Company has shared information regarding over 137,000 quarantined votes and about 86,000 invalidated voters with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and hopes their explanation will satisfy the election body.
Results Server and Biometric Data Checks:
The IEC through a letter on November 3 had asked Dermalog to provide explanation regarding 137,630 “server quarantined” votes as described in the October 27 Dermalog letter and 86,226 invalidated votes based on biometric data checking for duplicate voters.
Dermalog had written on October 27: “On the server we found that in several cases, operators submitted result sheets early in the morning, before the end of election day. The biometric device for the polling station was then deactivated. In order to continue with the biometric voter registration on election day in that polling station, the operators activated the backup biometric device and continued with biometric voter registration. The operators submitted the second result sheet with the biometric data to the server, but the server kept them under quarantine.”
Dermalog continued: “There are cases in which we received empty result sheets on the server with zero processed voters for a polling station. Afterwards we received a second result sheet for the same polling station with a number of proceeded voters, this time from the backup device. These second result sheets were checked and are in absolute accordance with the voting process, but they were kept in quarantine of the server because there were two result sheets from the same polling station (one empty and one filled with voters).”
Dermalog concluded: “The quarantine was installed due to the requirements and any change/correction on the website was forbidden due to the agreement with IEC and political parties/observers. At this stage, we would like to confirm the number of voters with biometric identities of 1,929,333 in total on the server.”
Dermalog responded to the IEC in a November 4 letter writing: “The number of 137,630 voters, which you have mentioned, are based on the number of 1,929,333 biometric datasets which have been registered and uploaded, minus 1,791,703 manually entered ‘number of voters processed’ from the uploaded result sheets; 137,630 is the difference between the MANUALLY entered data and the REAL uploaded data.”
Dermalog continued: “The manual data entry was done by OPERATORS at the polling stations; this does NOT reflect the real number of biometric votes!”
Dermalog concluded: “As such we can confirm that the correct number of biometric votes is 1,929,333 minus duplicates of 86,226, resulting to a white list of 1,843,107 voters who have only voted once. The above number of 137,630 is only the difference between the manual data entry by the operators compared to the REAL biometric data.”
Meanwhile, a well-placed IEC source, wishing anonymity, told Pajhwok Afghan News that initially information from biometric devices was directly transferred to the central server which was a time-consuming process and thus the IEC decided to carry out the data entry manually.
Invalidation of Duplicate Biometric Data and Voter Registration Numbers:
Dermalog in its November 4 letter provided more explanation and wrote: “The biometric matching and voter number comparison showed the following: 47,527 duplicate faces; 5,822 duplicate fingerprints; 37,006 duplicate voter numbers; and 5,141 numbers double uploaded.” This equals a total of 95,596 duplicates found.
Dermalog added that from among the total duplicates above: “9,270 of these duplicates matched with more than one criteria or multiple criteria, so that 86,226 duplicate voters were found.” This means that the voters with multiple criteria were the same people and so that number above was subtracted from the total to avoid counting the same duplicate voters more than once.
The Dermalog letter also explained: “There was a requirement by IEC to implement a SKIP button for military or police forces, as they might not be able to vote in their originally registered places. This SKIP button has been used correctly in most of the cases, but obviously, it has also been misused 37,006 times.”
Dermalog concluded: “Our system found this out, because 37,006 biometric data sets have been different for the same voter number on different devices or in different locations.” This number was part of the duplicate dataset and has been identified for invalidation.
IEC Required Biometric Voter Clarification:
The IEC has been seeking explanation from Dermalog at a time when the Stability and Partnership team has been demanding transparency regarding four types of suspect votes caught by existing IEC safeguards.
After a meeting on November 5, attended by its key members, the team, led by Abdullah Abdullah, said “the four types of invalid votes will never be acceptable to them.”
The IEC has been asked to differentiate and address the issue of four types of votes they indicate were identified by Dermalog, which includes the 137,630 server quarantined votes and 102,012 votes that are made up of votes polled out of official polling time on election day and voters polled with repeated photographs that had been declared below standard. This second number includes the 86,226 duplicate votes noted above plus the out-of-time votes.
But the State Builder team stressed a prompt start of the audit and recount process and said the Dermalog Company had set aside votes with repeated photos, those polled beyond official time and underage voters and there was no need to delay the process of vote recount.
Syed Khalid Sadaat, an agent of the State Builder team, today said that Dermalog had invalidated more than 86,000 votes, which he said was a huge number.
Referring to the views of Stability and Partnership team, he said: “Now as they are not the winners, they are trying to get invalidated 300,000 votes so that the election go to the second round.”
He also said in line with Article 93 and 94 of the electoral law, the invalidation of votes was the right of the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) and no one’s suggestion was acceptable in this regard.
Total Number of Polling Stations to Audit and Recount:
A document from IEC received by Pajhwok Afghan News on November 6 showed that votes of 8,494 polling stations will be audited and recounted. These polling stations included those identified by both the IEC and ECC for audit, recount and further investigation.
According to the IEC document, most of the identified polling stations that will be audited and recounted are in the following 10 provinces.
In Kabul 1,197 polling stations, in Nangarhar 841, Kandahar 783, Paktia 740, Baghlan 722, Helmand 542, Paktika 407, Ghazni 402, Khost 350 and in Badakhshan 322.
According to the IEC report on open and closed polling centers and stations, 26,580 polling stations were open on election day. This means approximately 32% of all polling stations are currently under question by the IEC and ECC.
The IEC delayed the announcement of September 28 presidential elections preliminary results from October 19 to November 14 due to technical issues and delays in receiving the biometric and electronic data quality checks. The existence of such a high number of audits and recounts may make the November 14 date difficult to meet.
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