From day one, Imran has been crying about ballot stuffing and has been asking for verifyication that every vote was rightfully cast by people from that constituency and no ballot stuffing occurred by verifying the thumb prints recorded on ballot papers.
So the ECP jumped on the bandwagon and said that in disputed constituencies, such an exercise would be done but “each thumb impression will be manually verified” but somehow “NADRA will be able to verify 500,000 votes per day”. Meaning, no manual verification would be done but computerized matching with a human running the machine, most likely. There was uproar when the ECP asked the disputing candidates to share the burden of the exercise but now the public kitty has taken over the responsibility entirely (The cost was stated to be Rs 90 million at one point). Now, two constituencies are being put to the test.
This is a pointless exercise. Let me explain.
First things first. From CSI and general reverence of forensic science in the media, people have been led to believe that fingerprint matching is foolproof and scientific. That is, every human being has a unique fingerprint. That claim is entirely false. There is no scientific evidence to state so and there is no proof of such a uniqueness. There is high uniqueness, but not a 100%, and the FBI has stopped claiming 100% match in court submissions now. Fingerprint matching, unlike DNA matching, was developed by law enforcement and not the scientific community. LEAs found it an easy, accessible and very distinguishable form of identification and took it in stride as the basis of ID. Fingerprint matches are done on the basis of minutiae and the threshold required to confirm a match varies from agency to agency, from country to country. In court, a ‘computerized match’ ala CSI is not acceptable and a human with expertise in fingerprint matching is required to verify a match. This leads to arbitrary, personalized decision making obviously. There has been at least one major case of a wrong match. From 48 million+ prints, a computerized system returned 15 possible matches for an expert to verify (7 minutiae matches) and based on 12-13+ minutiae matches, a match was returned by one the most respected experts in the field. In the end, the match was wrong and anyone interested in forensics can read the detailed inquiry into that, with comments on the science underneath, here. Moreover, studies have shown experts will reduce threshold to give a match if they know that the case under review is of a more potent nature (terrorism etc). Sidenote: snow flakes aren’t unique either. That’s a myth as well.
- Will smudgy blots, ie an unclear thumbprint, unable to lead to a match lead to discarding of that ballot paper?
- What if the computerized matching has a low threshold and returns a match for prints on two ballot papers but they are in actuality not a match?
- What if a thumb impression on a ballot paper is not in NADRA’s record, as they have accepted not having millions of prints? Will this mean such a ballot paper is rejected?
- If the magnetic ink was not used on a ballot paper and ordinary stamp ink was used, would that vote be rejected or merely be returned without verification?