Perhaps most of us are confused about the IK allegation of rigging in the election and must be wondering why the government is hesitating in verifying votes.
To me the verification seems like a straight forward process. Though it does not rule out rigging completely but still can help in ascertaining the authenticity of electoral process. Those of you who voted know the process through which you casted your vote.
The Polling Officer after verifying your CNIC filled the counter-foil of the ballot paper and asked you to place your thumb print on it. He put his signature and government stamp on the back of the ballot paper for you to poll. Election Commission of Pakistan is bound to keep these counter-foils where you had put your finger print against your CNIC number. These counter-foils are required for votes verification though someone can still replace the vote you casted with a forged one in the ballot box but this aspect of rigging cannot be easily verified and requires criminal investigation.
First the verification process needs to check if the number of counter-foils specific to a polling booth matches with the number of votes counted in that booth. If these numbers match, it is good, if they do not; it implies rigging.
The process also needs to do detail verification. For this, to start with, the process needs to take some random samples of counter-foils and scan the finger-prints and the CNIC number on paper using a high resolution scanner. Simple image processing techniques can segment the fingerprint and the associated CNIC number. The verification now only requires one to one mapping of these finger-prints with the ones that are already in the NADRA record against your CNICs. In case any mismatch is found, it clearly indicates rigging in the sample data. A verification of all the foils in a constituency can measure the extent of rigging if there is any or give a clean chit to this aspect of the electoral process.
It is important to mention that the finger matching technology is very mature and one-to-one matching is very simple and accurate even if there is only a small part of the impression is available for a match. CARE has developed a solution many years back that can do millions of these matches in a second using high power computing provided these thumb-prints are scanned from the foils into a database against their respective CNIC and NADRA database is accessible for the matching. CARE with Allweb Technologies is offering this solution (https://www.allwebid.com/) to users for many applications. One utility is where a user can associate multiple applications like emails, facebook accounts etc with his thumb print and only swapping his finger without putting any password will open all these applications for him.
It is also very important to understand that very little from a fingerprint is required for matching. This little information from the fingerprint is called minutiae. These are the points that mark the ending or bifurcations of the lines on your fingerprint. A thumb impression is non-verifiable if its quality is so bad that even few minutiae cannot be extracted from its scan.
I hope and pray early resolution to current crises. I also hope the negotiation of the two parties will consider technological solutions like this to give comfort to IK if the elections were fair or will bring the rigging to light for our future elections to be fair. This will also help people understand that how the use of technology can bring fairness in our systems and help in catching the offenders with proof.