Dermalog under fire for quarantining thousands of votes

Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced on Saturday, November 02, that Germany’s Dermalog company has quarantined 137,000 biometrically verified votes for not having required details and not being sent properly to the central server. The company has now come under criticisms by Afghan electoral watchdogs for not providing clarifications on why it has quarantined so many votes.

The IEC has purchased biometric devices from the German firm, Dermalog. These devices were bought to assure more transparency in 2018 Afghan parliamentary election and 2019 Afghan presidential election.

As the dispute raised over vote counting process few months ago, the country’s election commission asked Dermalog to send German experts to operate the system.      

An IEC spokesperson on Sunday, November 03, told Kabul Now that the commission is the only authority to make final decision on recounting process.

The recounting process will not start unless the exact figure of biometrically verified votes are not verified, according to observers.

Naser Naserizada, who is an election observer for the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), says recounting process is on halt as the exact number of biometrically verified is not clear.

According to him, a technical team of the IEC comprises of three is busy comparing votes registered with the national tally center and with the data center. He further said that cross-checking of votes registered with the two centers needed to be done only after Dermalog released the final report of biometrically verified votes.

He, however, stated that Dermalog had quarantined 137,000 votes because the votes were not sent to the central server in line with the defined procedures.

On the other hand, executive director of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) Yousuf Rasheed said around 800,000 votes needed to be taken out of ballot boxes in the recounting process.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, November 04, Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, a senior member of Chief Executive Abdullah’s ticket asked the IEC to take the 137,360 votes quarantined by Dermalog Company out of the recounting process.

Akhlaqi also noted that around 70,000 votes which were not cast in line with the defined procedures should be invalidated too.

On the other hand, Jamal Naser Usooli who is a member of Ghani’s presidential ticket said that Dermalog has identified the 137,000 votes as valid after assessing the votes. “The stability and partnership ticket (Abbdullah’s ticket) want to invalidate the valid votes. This is not the responsibility of the stability and partnership ticket. The election commission is responsible for invalidating or validating votes,” he asserted.

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