Ghana’s Electoral Commission (or “EC”) announced that it plans to pursue a new biometric voter registration system for the coming general elections in 2020.
This news comes despite the fact that the current system — which made Ghana the first country in the world to use biometric voter registration and has been in place since 2012 — was used for local elections happening this week.
Some local groups including The Chamber for Local Governance (ChaLoG) expressed concern at the announcement, and demanded that the local elections be postponed until the new system was in place.
In their own statement issued Monday in Accra, ChaLog argued that both district and general elections are of equal importance, and that if the current system was not sufficient to handle one it shouldn’t be relied upon for either.
“ChaLoG finds the reasons and arguments being put up by the EC to compile a new biometric voters register ahead of the 2020 general elections to be very highly untenable in view of the fact that, it is this same ‘defective and non-credible’ biometric voters register that has been used to conduct all the aforementioned successful elections in this country,” the statement said.
ChaLog called on the EC to “postpone today’s district assembly elections, if it feels so strongly that the current biometric voters register is very highly defective and therefore not credible to be used to conduct the 2020 general elections which is nearly a year away.”
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Monday, EC Deputy Chairperson in Charge of Operations Samuel Tetteh said the problems with the current system have to do with some voter’s fingerprints not being registered properly by the Biometric Verification Devices being used, resulting in the need for manual registration.
“So the commission intends to add another enhanced feature, which is facial. So this and many other challenges are informing the commission to go in for a new biometric solution,” Tetteh said.
In addressing the concerns laid out by ChaLoG, the EC’s Deputy Chairman in charge of Public Affairs, Dr Eric Bossman-Asare, stressed that the existing system is one they have confidence in, but will require replacement going forward.
“[Y]ou know at times, something is very credible but you have stretched it to the limit and you work with professionals, scientists who would tell you that this thing you are using, you have got to be very, very careful,” he said.
December 18, 2019 – by Tony Bitzionis