Mexico plans upgrades to biometric voter ID system

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Mexico’s national biometric identification system, first launched 11 years ago, will see further improvements over the next five years, greatly expanding the ability to quickly verify citizens through fingerprints and portraits.

Safran Identity & Security was awarded a five-year contract by the National Electrical Institute of Mexico. The deal will allow Safran to modernize Mexico’s multi-biometric system, which will be able to register 113 million fingerprint captures and portrait images.

The new Safran system can support up to 120,000 transactions per day, and will match scans against the largest database in the region.

Safran’s existing identification services flag potential fraud and double-identity cases, aiming to prevent citizens from voting in elections multiple times.

Safran has worked with Mexico’s INE since the program’s inception in 2005. Through a previous deal, Safran upgraded Mexico’s fingerprint scanner capabilities, expanding support from 2-fingerprint matching to 10 fingerprints.

In Mexico, the national voter ID has become the de facto identification card for many citizens. The free photo ID can be used to open a bank account, or just to prove the person is old enough to buy alcohol.

Voter IDs are sometimes used in other developing countries to prove citizenship and do basic tasks, though generally those ID cards are not as advanced or secure as the biometric-based system in place in Mexico.