Finger print scanning and Indelible Ink in the Electoral Process

I have been distracted from compiling my post on the use of excel as a data interchange mechanism by some other snippets of what Dick Roche said at yesterday’s Dail committee meeting as reported in the Irish Times (page 9) and Dublin’s freesheet Metro (page 5)…

  1. The Census Enumerators haven’t gone away… €5 million to €6 million is being provided to Local Authorities to hire temporary staff “such as census enumerators” to carry out door to door inquiries. The Unions haven’t gone away either though and I suspect that Local Authority staff currently doing those jobs might be offended by this idea. And at the end of the day it is €6 million between 114 Local Government agencies (29 County Councils, 10 City/Borough Councils and 75 Town Councils) or an average of €52632 per agency to pay temporary staff for the duration of the scrap and rework. (that calculation assumes that Town Councils have a role to play in the Electoral Register – if Town councils can be excluded that amounts to just under €154k per Local Authority). Of course, this is still just scrap and rework – the process of gathering the information will use the same apparently broken processes to capture the new register. Once the cleanup is finished, unless there is a study of the root causes, the same defective processes will operate to corrupt the register almost immediately and taxpayers will find themselves having to fund another €6million clean up in the not to distant future.
  2. The Minister has put forward a proposal to avoid voter fraud at the Polling stations in the next election. “Indelible Ink or fingerprint scanners could be used in polling booths at the next poll” (source: Metro). Of the ink, the Minister is quoted as saying “it woudl be a badge of pride that you had participated in democracy”. Allllllrrrrrriiiiiigggggghhhhhtttttyyyyy then.

My first recommendation is to ban CSI and its spin off shows from the Roche household. Capturing a fingerprint at the time of a ballot would be totally useless unless there was a master data source of citizen biometric data that could be referenced – even Gil Grissom has to have a finger print in the database before he can nab the criminal.

This is a proposal that I would suggest Digitial Rights Ireland jump all over quick smart as, in my view, this combined with the call to use PPS numbers brings us one step from a ‘big brother’ single view of citizen with biometric data. And as the Government seems to be incapable of properly managing complex technology projects I would be very concerned by this.

I’ll get my post on Excel done over the coming days – unfortunately pesky day job is getting in the way. ;(

1 thought on “Finger print scanning and Indelible Ink in the Electoral Process”

  1. For the record, the Census Enumerators will be gone away this Sunday when their contracts expire. 21st of May rolls around fast when you are floundering for a solution.

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