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Elections ID cards under debate

By Messenger Staff
Friday, February 18
A working group consisting of the ruling power and 8 opposition parties conducting negotiations and discussions over the amendments to the elections code has come to a very serious obstacle and appear to be stuck temporarily. One of the ways that the opposition wants to amend the elections code is to introduce biometric identity cards which would be used during the elections so that fraud and voting in the wrong name could be totally eradicated.

This has become a matter of controversy between the negotiating sides. The ruling power team, headed by Pavle Kublashvili, Head of Judicial Committee of the Parliament, refused the idea of introducing biometric identity cards for the elections.

Biometric cards are based on information which is unique to any citizen or person around the world. It is based on the fingerprints and a photo of an individual and, of course, this data cannot be manipulated. At least the possibility of doing so is almost zero. Only theoretically could there be any manipulation, like with a credit card and pin code. Moreover, a biometric identity card does not need a pin code. It is all computerized. Of course this requires serious technological involvement and everyone would be obliged to take a photo and give their fingerprints.

Incidentally, the process of issuing biometric passports for Georgian citizens who want to travel abroad has already started and, since the end of 2010, old passports for Georgian citizens are annulled and new biometric passports are being issued. This is to comply with the world adopted international passport control standards. So, the biometric identity is not a complete novelty in Georgia, however, during the negotiations with opposition parties, the ruling power presented the argument that such technology requires an incredible amount of money, which is obviously a slight exaggeration. The ruling authorities also mentioned that around a year and a half would be needed to meet all the demands for using biometric IDs for the elections. Both arguments are designed to frustrate this step. If it has become obvious that the ruling power just does not want the introduction of biometric IDs, the question their stance raises is why? The answer however could be very simple. In the case of the introduction of biometric IDs, it would be very difficult to manipulate this segment of the elections. So the answer becomes very clear. The ruling power does not want to conduct unbiased elections.

The speculation about introducing biometric IDs was aired already last year. Passports have already been issued, around one year is left before the parliamentary elections are held and investing in this direction will lead to secure and smooth development of Georgian political issues. So there are many arguments proving that the ruling authorities just do not want fair elections.

It was decided during negotiations that the ruling power will still discuss the issue and reach its final decision for the next sessions by the end of February.

Some of the opposition meanwhile is frustrated having trusted the ruling administration and becoming involved in the negotiations process. They believed that the negotiations would yield some positive results which would facilitate a smooth shift from one ruling power to another or at least a sharing of power through coalition. Others in the opposition, who were against any kind of negotiations with the ruling power claiming that it would be senseless, consider that their initial position was right. If either of the sides cares for the country they should come to a consensus. Only in the case of fair elections would it be possible to smooth the development of the country towards democracy, so it would not follow in the footsteps of Tunisia or Egypt or even the Rose revolution, and instead prove to the world a genuine commitment to democracy and western values.