Ghana preps for biometric voter registration

Starting this weekend Ghana’s Electoral Commission will run 3 days pilot biometric voter registration exercise at 2 polling station in the northern part of the country. 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Ghana, that will take place sometime in the fall will be the first election to use the biometric voter identification as a security measure against voter fraud. Previously issued voter photo id cards will become invalid.
During the registration process an eligible voter’s identity will be verified and biometric data captured, in Ghana election case it would be 10 finger prints and face photo. Special measures would applied who lost some fingers or don’t have any fingers at all so that they can also take part in the election process. During the actual elections biometric data will be checked upon casting a ballot to verify that every individual voted only once.
This new security measure raised a lot of concerns and controversy as it’s expensive and rolling it out requires significant communication infrastructure upgrades. Electoral Commission will be working under pressure to address all the challenges of the new process. Biometric voter registration process for all election districts is planned to take place between 24th March and 5th May, 2012.7000 biometric data capture will be used during the process. Each 4 of 23,000 polling stations would create a cluster where the registration will take place.

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Hunting for fake sheriff’s deputy id badge holder

It’s been reported that a car was pulled over on Inglewood Ave in Lawndale, Los Angeles suburbs by a motorcycle Sheriff’s deputy. When the deputy came closer to the car the driver noticed that the id badge didn’t look right. The motorcycle looked real with blue and red light flashers and the officer was wearing clothes like sheriff’s deputies do. Described as 35-40 years old male fled the scene when asked which division he is assigned for.
Information or tips regarding this particular incident might be reported to South L.A. Detective Bureau at 323-820-6700. Sheriff’s office also advised that the stopped motorist has right to pull over in well lighted area, ask for photo identification card (aside from the badge every deputy needs to carry departmental photo id card) and ask for a seargant to arrive at the scene.
Fortunately fake cops stopping motorist are not that common and not very harmful. Since they have no real authority they usually just give warnings or ask for simple things such fastening the seat belts or turning the headlights on. Impersonating a police officer is a serious crime though and offenders face strict penalties when convicted. Sometimes they get arrested when trying to pull over a real undercover law enforcement agent as we just recently wrote about such cases in Florida and Texas.

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charity id badge and the middle men

United Kingdom: charity street sellers, often called charity muggers or chuggers for short have become a nightmare of many British towns and cities. They work by encouraging people on the street to sign up for ongoing charity contributions. Chuggers wear flashy vests, photo id badge and hold a catalog to show the highlights of the campaign. For people on popular walk passages the problem is that chuggers are very aggressive and intimidating, often stating on the way and difficult to avoid, simple ‘I’m not interested’ is often insufficient. Streets where chuggers populations are high started to scare people off and hurt businesses. In response to high number of complains many town councils ordered that charity runners are only allowed on the streets on couple of designed days a week. Burley and Manchester are the most recent examples of towns which decided to reduce charity collectors presence in the town central district to 2 and 3 days respectively. The goal is not ban charities from the public space but to reduce public exposure to aggressive campaign.
It’s worth to note at this point that if you take a closer look at the chuggers id badge most of them don’t work for the charity directly but rather to charity runner agency. Most of these runners are said to be compensated according to their performance. Simple question arises right here: how much of the funds collected actually go to the ones in needs? Be advised that most of the well recognized and respected charities are very transparent about their financials. For example if you search for ‘Doctors without Borders financials’ on the web you’d quickly find out that 87% funds go to help programs, 12% to fund raising and 1% to administration. Giving to the ones in need is the right thing without a doubt. Unfortunately these days you also need to check how much actually reaches the ones in need. Otherwise you might find out one day they money you contributed in the best faith to charity were actually spent on the chairman’s luxury car and private jet trips.

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fake id badge DEA agent arrested

David Brian Webb, 35 years old resident of Livingston, Texas was arrested on February 9th for impersonating a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Webb runs a dog training company named Webb Kennels, his company website says he holds a master’s degree in criminal justice administration. How an educated man and a business owner ends up arrested as a fake cop with facing very serious consequences? It’s worth noting a very professional fake cop, with DEA uniform, id badge, even custom equipped 2011 Dodge Charger, black with tinted windows, siren, spotlight, LED lights, dash camera, radio, basically same equipped as police interceptor vehicles.
Well, it looks like he wanted to be in law enforcement for a while even it was only acting as one. The record show that he attended peace office training in 1997 and traffic class in 1998. He got as far as Roman Forest Police Department reserve officer for couple months but then he was fired for not following orders and policy violation. Then he got arrested in September 2001 for impersonating a member of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team which involved wearing the SWAT uniform as well as an id badge. The court ordered a deferred adjudication and one year of community supervision.
Webb remains in custody until the federal judge hearing. He is facing up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

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a man with airline id badge attacks the pilot

Passengers of TAM airlines flight 8047 en route from Montevideo, Uruguay to Sao Paulo, Brazil on February 12th have gone thru terrifying moments when the plane started to sway violently. The violent shakes of the Airbus A320-200 aircraft were due to a 28 years old passenger attacking the pilot. Apparently the young man, reported by some passengers to wear TAM Airlines photo id badge rushed to the front of the plane some 30 min into the flight and entered the cockpit thru the door that wasn’t locked at the time. After the pilot was attacked and struggled to control the plane he made announcement to the passengers asking for help. Several passengers came to the cockpit and tried to grab the intruder, he fought back fiercely causing minor injuries to 6 passengers.

After the passengers incapacitated the attacker in over 10 minutes long fight the plane made an emergency landing in Porto Allegre 20 minutes after the incident took place. The man was handcuffed, removed from the plane and taken to a mental institution by the police. According to the police statement the reason for man’s behavior was a psychotic attack. The plane continued the journey to the destination arriving safely with 2:45 hours delay.
TAM airlines press office provided no details on the incident. It is unclear at this point if the cockpit doors were unlocked or the man entered the cockpit acting as TAM employee.

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Wisconsin: voter ID bill in action

Spring Primary taking place in Wisconsin on February 21st is the first time to see new election law in action. According to the law that went into force as of January 1 2012 an acceptable form of photo identification must be presented upon casting an election ballot. Acceptable documents include Wisconsin Department of Transportation issued driver’s license (even if it’s revoked or suspended), Wisconsin DOT issued photo id card, US military id badge, US passport. It’s not too late for those who haven’t obtained the proper documentation as an id card and driver’s licenses receipt from DOT will be accepted. Those who are missing acceptable photo id card at the election station can still cast a provisional ballot but must come back with the right document to the polling place by 8PM of the voting day or to the city clerk’s office by 4PM on Friday following the election.
Spring Primary is a small event with turnout not exceeding 10% of eligible voters and therefore Government Accountability Board expects no issues. The new procedures were partially tested during 2011 summer and fall elections when voters were asked to produce photo identification but not required to do so. Ad campaign worth $436k was launched to educate state residents on the law. Even though the law is in force already the discussion on its purposefulness has not stopped, there are several suits filed in courts awaiting verdict. The suits are usually based on allegations that the legislation is unconstitutional as it may put effective voting restrictions on poor, elderly and minorities.

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id theft in return for help

Judith Ann Hamm Rishel, 57 years old woman befriended a Lincolnton, North Carolina couple sometime in 2011. Shortly thereafter she told her new friends she was going thru a difficult period of her life and needed a place to stay. During her stay with the new family she answered Discover credit card mail offer addressed to one of the family members. Rishel activated the stolen card online in September 2011 and obtained PIN for cash advance ATM withdrawals. Right after that she changed the billing address to non existent so that no statements would come in the mail. Then she applied for another credit card for the other family member she was staying with, this time at Citibank. She was using both cards for purchases and ATM withdrawals until the family was notified by Discover on suspicious activity. Over $10,000 were stolen from both credit card accounts.
During the arrest conducted by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Detective Don Mauldin and Sheriff’s deputies secured computer and electronic equipment, numerous photo id cards, driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and Community College identification badges. Rishel was placed in Harven A. Crouse Detention Center on a $185k bond.
Yet another id theft story, this time more sad and bitter as decent people got punished for essentially doing the right thing which was helping a person that they thought was in need. Even decent people or maybe I should say especially decent people need to monitor their credit as they have higher score on average and therefore are more likely to become target for identity thieves.

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$350k settlement for immigration raid

June 4, 2007, New Haven, CT town administration introduced municipal photo id cards for town resident who couldn’t get state issued identification including undocumented immigrants. 2 days later Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents raided Latino community which resulted in 30 arrests. Many city officials and attorneys hired for the arrested individuals regarded ICE raid as a retaliation for city ID card program although ICE officials denied that allegation calling the raid a routine action. In October 2009 the attorneys representing 11 of the people arrested in that raid filed a civil suit in federal court on the ground of violation of constitutional protection against racial profiling and unreasonable searches, ICE was additionally charged for offending the 10th amendment. Complaint’s testimony included the fact that ICE agents forcibly entered 4 households without consent or search warrants. Removal from the country proceedings against the 11 individual suing were put on on hold for the period of the trial.
Yesterday the trial was settled with $350k for the arrested immigrants making it the highest settlement amount in history for immigration raid case. ICE spokesperson confirmed the settlement was reached but also pointed out that there was “no liability or fault on the part of the U.S. government”. Removal proceedings were dropped against those 11 aliens involved in the case. Aside from the attorneys Yale Law School students were volunteering during the case. Attorneys charged no fees for this particular case.

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Alabama takes off with STAR id card program

Starting this week Alabama residents can apply for driver’s license and state photo it card with a star on it. The gold star means that the document is REAL-ID compliant and makes it sufficient for accessing federally operated premises such airports and federal administration buildings. The new Alabama id cards were shown first in September 2011. REAL-ID act, passed by the Congress in 2005 as a part of higher security requirements policy after September 11 terrorist attacks specifies what supporting documentation needs to be provided in order to obtain state issued photo identification documents.
REAL-ID comes into force in 2 phases. By December 1 2014 all individuals born after December 1 1964 must possess REAL-ID compliant state photo id card or driver’s licenses. For people born before December 1 1964 the deadline is December 1 2017. The cost of the STAR documents are the same as before and they’re valid for 4 years which is also no change from the previous standard. In order to apply for the new documents applicants must be able to present Social Security card, two documents proving principal residence, valid, unexpired US passport or birth certificate (certified copy is acceptable); non-US citizens need to provide appropriate documents issued by USCIS proving their immigration status.

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Immigration, RDID id cards testing in El Paso

US Customs and Border Protection have started testing radio frequency ready lanes on the border bridge in El Paso crossing. RFID technology has been implemented into United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued documents earlier in 2011. Now the ordinary people can take advantage of the new technology. The pilot program started in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico crossing. That particular border crossing is notorious for long waiting lines, reaching up to 3 hours.

Thanks to RDID the document can be read before approaching the immigration officer so that the data is on the officer’s computer screen by the person steps up. This saves 6 seconds which may sound irrelevant but when you consider 14,000 people crossing that post every day it adds up to significant amount of time very quickly. Right now a lot of people are not aware of the new improvement and wait in ordinary line even when eligible to use RFID lanes; in order to better mark the lanes high visibility LED signs have been installed. As of now it’s estimated that around 30% of people crossing the border over the bridge is using RFID enabled lanes.

Further study will determine if the Paso del Norte bridge solution would spread to other US border posts.

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