Bangladesh to use biometric ID for voting


Sreepur is a pretty unremarkable town - small shops and a few garment factories in a sea of flat green farmland, an hour's drive from Dhaka.

Bangladesh is full of towns like this one. But Sreepur has found its moment in history.

It has been chosen as the place to begin a process of democratic reform so ambitious and far reaching there are unlikely to be many precedents anywhere in the world.

Bangladesh's electoral system, said to be riddled with fraud, is being completely overhauled.

The old voter list is being torn up and the photographs, fingerprints and personal details of an estimated 90 million voters are to be recorded from scratch.


When we visited the town in the suffocating heat of a Bangladeshi summer, two lines of people, one for men and one for women, were queuing outside a government building.

Inside, they were invited to sit down by young soldiers, who took their photographs and fingerprints and stored them as digital images.

A number of such centres have been set up across the district.

So far, more than 46,000 people have come to re-register as voters and claim their place in what they hope will be a fraud-free voting future.

"The new system will mean only I can cast my vote," one woman tells me.


The eventual aim is to prepare a national electoral register, complete with the photograph of every voter.

And, if any voter tries to register twice, in theory, the digital fingerprint images will match, and they will be stopped.

"The chances of false voting, of one gentlemen entering twice - here and somewhere else - will be eliminated," election commissioner Brig-Gen M Sakhawat Hussain says.

There is much more.

You know the Democrats would hate this system. It would be so much harder to get their dead voters county. Also, if a poor illiterate country like Bangladesh can do this, it destroys their excuse for not doing it in the US.


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