2.2 percent voter registration forms sent to police have been rejected: DNR

Department of National Registration (DNR) Director Fareeda Yoosuf has stated that 11 out of the 500 voter re-registration forms sent to the police for verification have been rejected to date.

Meanwhile, police have announced they are able to verify fingerprints 25 times faster than they had previously stated.

“The DNR is just acting as an intermediary between the Elections Commission [EC]and the police. Once we receive forms from the EC, we forward it to the police who will carry out the verification process. Once we hear back from them, we deliver their results to the EC,” Fareeda explained.

“So far we have received 350 re-registration forms from the EC on Tuesday, and 150 forms on Wednesday. Having sent them to police promptly, we have heard from them that 11 of the forms have been rejected. We haven’t reviewed the report, nor asked for specifics, therefore we can’t say whether these forms have been rejected due to issues with the fingerprint, or some other issue,” she stated.

“As this is a matter related to the election, it is the EC that will decide on how to proceed with the matter. We have sent them the forms and the police report. It is their responsibility to follow it up and decide what to do about it,” Fareeda said.

Meanwhile, the police released a statement on Tuesday stating that they had completed the fingerprint verification process of 350 forms sent in by the DNR. The statement does not mention finding any irregularities in the forms.

Minivan News was unable to contact police media officials or the EC secretary general at the time of press.

Fingerprint verification

Although the Supreme Court ruling issued on September 13 orders the EC to verify fingerprints on re-registration forms through the DNR, Fareeda stated that the department does not possess the capacity or the resources to conduct the process.

The DNR therefore sends the forms they receive from the EC on to the police, who carry out the verification process.

While police routinely fingerprint those arrested and the DNR fingerprints those issued new ID cards, no institution in the Maldives has the capacity to verify fingerprints on the scale of a national presidential election.

The police initially said on October 14 that with the capacity they have, it would take them five minutes to verify a single fingerprint. As each re-registration form has fingerprints of four different people – the voter, the bearer who submits the form and two witnesses – each form would then take 20 minutes for verification.

However, on October 23 – 9 days after the initial statement – police announced that they have “increased capacity” to the level where they can verify five fingerprints in one minute, which amounts to 75 form verifications in an hour.

A statement on the police website quotes Assistant Commissioner of Police Hussain Adam as stating that the institution has increased capacity by deciding that, in addition to the automated verification system, police will also manually verify fingerprints.

He explained that manual verification meant that “fingerprint experts” will judge the legitimacy of a fingerprint by looking at it with the naked eye.

“There are certain things in every person’s fingerprint that need to be counted. This can be done by experts just by looking at it with the naked eye. We have decided to use this approach. It can be done,” he stated.

The Jumhooree coalition has maintained that they need at least five percent of the re-registration forms to have the fingerprints verified, while the Progressive Party of Maldives continues to demand that ten percent be verified.