Ghana Vote Illustrates Promise and Perils of Digital Democracy

Ghana has just held its third major election to feature biometric voter verification care of GenKey technology, and it’s highlighting the benefits and perils of the emerging age of digital polling.

Ghana Vote Illustrates Promise and Perils of Digital DemocracyThe country became the first in the world to use biometric technology to verify voters in 2012, when the technology was used in a general election. Three years later, GenKey technology was deployed for municipal elections, and yesterday its Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs) were being used to enroll and verify the fingerprint data of voters for a presidential election.

On the day of the election, the democratic process seemed to be unfolding smoothly, with GenKey devices and voter registers reported at 95 percent of polling station, and ballot boxes empty ahead of the opening of the polls, according to a Bloomberg report. But issues have arisen since then, with the country’s electoral commission reporting that its electronic vote tallying seemed to have been compromised by a digital attack. And earlier today, the commission’s website was hacked, with fraudulent vote results posted.

The website is now back up and running with the fake results having been removed, and the electoral commission is now relying on a manual count of paper ballots to determine the election’s result. All of which may leave officials and observers feeling uneasy about digital security, which clearly remains a paramount issue even if biometric technology can be used to more accurately vet voters.

Sources: Voice of America, Bloomberg, BBC News

December 8, 2016 – by Alex Perala