A few years after the Telangana government decided to deploy a small-scale facial recognition system (FRS) in an urban local body (ULB) election to test its features, the Bihar government is gearing up to use the technology full-scale for its upcoming local body polls. It aims to solve the problem of duplicate votes and bogus voting.
Facial recognition, along with liveness detection, will be deployed at the polling booths and will be used by presiding and polling officers. They will capture the faces of voters and match the same with a voter ID / alternative photo ID and the voter slip, said a document reviewed by Moneycontrol.
Liveness detection helps detect the presence of a live user, rather than a representation such as a picture, a video, or a mask.
While making the case for the need of such a system in the document, the Bihar government termed the issue of bogus voting a ‘major problem,’ and said that there was a need for a real-time mechanism that will generate notifications and alerts when a fraudulent voter tries to cast a vote.
Before going into details on how the technology would work, it is important to point out that facial recognition systems have long been criticised for violating the privacy of individuals, perpetrating bias in its systems, and being error prone. A petition is currently lodged in the Telangana High Court (HC) against the Telangana government for the usage of facial recognition by the police.
At each polling station, a verification agent will be present with an Android tablet, which will have an application for identifying and registering voters using real-time FRS with liveness detection. A total of 15,000 tablets will be required for the entire voting period.
“Each voter’s facial expression and verification document image will be captured,” the document read.
The proposed application will be bilingual (Hindi and English), and will have inbuilt GPS, camera, and internet, so that the data can be shared over a secure network to a centralised server of the Bihar government.
The app will also be integrated with the electoral photo database so that a booth officer can match captured faces. The tablets will be mapped to individual polling booths and will have to be approved by the presiding officer before the start of the voting process.
How it will work
First, when a citizen comes to vote, the booth officer will ask for their identity card.
“Consent must be taken from the voter before registration and authentication,” the document read.
Once consent is provided, the booth officer will enter the details in the app and upload the identity document.
It is not clear whether a voter will be allowed if he or she does not provide consent to undergo facial recognition.
Moneycontrol has reached out to State Election Commission, Bihar with queries in this regard and the post will be updated when response is received.
Next, the booth officer will take a photo of the voter, and the system backend will match the photo with the electoral database and de-duplicate, if applicable. De-duplication is the technique to eliminate or link duplicate copies of repeating data.
The app will share a detailed output if no match is found, and the person will be registered as a bogus voter on the server. The result will be relayed to the State Election Commission (SEC), from where necessary action will be initiated.
“The application must check for duplication at the point of registration. Voters can be informed immediately, and the issue can be addressed on the spot. The booth officer / operator shall decide on such cases based on instructions / guidelines issued by the State Election Commission,” the document said.
“The architecture must adopt an end-to-end security model that protects the data and the infrastructure from malicious attacks, theft, natural disasters etc,” the document said.
It will be the responsibility of the service provider developing the app and SEC officials to ensure the security of the field equipment, as well as protection of the software system from internal and external threats.
Furthermore, since the data captured in the app will have to be relayed to the SEC head-quarters (HQ) over the internet, the government has asked the data to be encrypted.
“Since the sensitive part (voter photo and documents) is handled by the server, reliable database and network security are required. Encryption standards must be used for sharing data over the internet,” the document said, adding that all system logs should be properly stored.
By Aihik Sur
Read all the Latest Tech News and Breaking News here