AKIPRESS.COM - The State Registration Service of Kyrgyzstan is working on digitizing information of citizens of the country and plans to complete the task by this June. State Registration Service Chairman Tairbek Sarpashev talked about technical results of local elections and preparations for the local elections this fall and the presidential elections scheduled for 2017 in an interview with AKIpress.
- How the local elections were held in terms of voter identification equipment?
- Two things were different in local elections from the parliamentary elections: voting was possible only upon presentation of ID passport (internal passport), local election commissions must be sure a voter is a local community member; a new identification method was tested. Previous elections allowed use of old passports, in some cases voters were even identified based on their photos. This time voter identification was possible only based on fingerprints.
We have identified almost 100% of voters or 156,000 across the country in the local elections. Eighty people were not identified only, that is one per 2,000 voters. This is a very high level.
Identification at technical level was organized very well. We have analyzed the process and have come to conclusion that the main and only reason of technical failures is human factor, not technical failure. This is a mere wrong connectivity of equipment. For instance, 68 polling stations in Osh did not have any failures, while 5 other stations had failures throughout the day. It was found out that voting identification equipment operators were poorly prepared.
What arrangements will be made for autumn elections? We have 5 structures that will be involved into the process in each district or town. I signed the order on proper training and tests of equipment operators beforehand. If 6 operators are needed, we will prepare 10. Previously, we trained those who were proposed by local authorities. Now we are selecting candidates ourselves through exams.
Voter lists remain a very serious problem. This is connected with yet imperfect passport system and update of voter information. We have 6,000 citizens with duplicating personal identification numbers. Two people use same personal identification numbers. Most of them are in Russia. They were blacklisted by Russian authorities and for this reason they needed another identification number to enter Russia. We are working on this problem.
Another problem is 1994 year passports, the law does not allow their use in the elections. We are replacing them for free now. I do not see other problems so far.
- How will the problem with voter list be addressed?
- When I have come to the State Registration Service, I immediately hired 600 operators and we began digitizing permanent address information, 4.5 million address forms in total. We have entered the information into the geoinformation address registration system. The system is ready, we will need to enter all information by June 1. The project was financed for 27 million soms. Thus, each house information in Kyrgyzstan will be digitized, including information who will live in the house and who has been registered at the given address, what is the square of the house, cadastre information. We will be able to retrieve all that information having pressed a necessary key.
We are entering information on children of preschool and school age now. Information on children from 7 to 18 years is collected in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science. The personal identification numbers of children will be linked to those of their parents.
We have reached preliminary agreement with the State Defense Committee. We will provide access to the database to the military enlistment offices. They will be connected to the system of identification of male citizens reaching 18 years. The State Registration Service will provide necessary equipment to them, they will digitalize the documents they need. This is a mutually beneficial project.
We will try to digitize information on all citizens of Kyrgyzstan until June. We have digitized information on citizens above 18 years. It remains now to digitize information on citizens from birth to 7 years and from 7 to 18 years.
This way we are building the foundation for electronic government. The e-government is an electronic database of a good quality, which is regularly updated.
- Do you integrate information on newborns?
- We enter information on newborns in electronic format since 2015. We have entered information on 70,000 newborns for the past 6 months. The information on children from 1 to 7 years has not been entered yet, there are around 700,000 such children.
- Will the personal identification number be assigned for the whole life?
- We plan that since May 1 one personal identification number will be assigned for the whole life. All citizens will have their own personal identification numbers soon.
- Do you plan any exceptions for change of a personal identification number, for instance, when a citizen will change gender?
- There will be some moments when the personal identification number (PIN) can be changed. Those cases will be formalized in legislation. The principle for PIN assignment will remain the same: it will include gender, date of birth and 5 digits. The PINs of children will be linked to PINs of parents. By the way, 70,000 newborns have been already linked to their parents. The Sanjyra Project (large-scale ancestry project) will be built upon this information. In 150-200 years, all citizens will know 7 generations of their ancestors (according to Kyrgyz traditions, persons should know their 7 fathers – 7 generations of their ancestors). This is not the ultimate goal. This is a by-product, but it is important. It is also a valuable information for the State Personnel Service. They will know relatives of candidates for vacant positions in public service.
- What is the progress of preparations for the presidential elections?
- All citizens will have biometric ID cards by September 2017. It is possible that we will receive funding for this project from donors. In this case they will hold a tender, will deliver equipment and software. If that happens, we will begin issuing biometric ID cards since June. A biometric ID card will cost around 300 soms.
- What will ID card contain?
- A chip of the ID card will contain information about a person, digital signature, domicile address, health records, driver's license, ElCard bank card, pension insurance number. In case of a loss of the ID card, citizens can call to block it.
- Should any person have a bank account then?
- We are thinking now whether to make this a requirement or as an option. It is out of date to bring cash to the post office to pay pensions to retired citizens. A person can open account at any bank he or she wants.
By the way, Russia will switchover to biometric passports since 1 January 2017. We are introducing this passport this year. I want to make this project transparent, social and prompt.
- What is the status of e-government project?
- Some US$50 million were invested into electronic government during the past 10 years. It does not work so far. The reason is that there was no agency responsible for introduction of electronic government. The State Registration Service has the biggest and the most relevant database now de-facto. We have the biggest infrastructure. The State Registration Service will be a lead agency in e-government project.
Biometric information stopped voting falsifications, such as ballot stuffing, multiple voting, change of voting protocols. Biometric technologies allow to eliminate corruption in other sectors. The database of accurate information won't allow cheating.
Electronic government will allow to make plans for future, including construction of schools, vaccination, targeted provision of medical assistance. We are harnessing consequences of corruption now. We have removed all causes of corruption during elections. These technologies can be applied in all areas of the state: in planning, distribution and collection of information. Our team sees what and how should be done.