EC To Start Biometric Registration – Afari-Gyan

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), on Wednesday announced that the commission would commence biometric voter registration before the end of this year. He, however, dismissed speculations that the EC would use the electronic voting process for Election 2012. Dr Afari-Gyan was speaking on the third day of a public lecture, organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, in Accra. The three-day forum, which started on June 27 to 29, 2011, is on the theme: “Elections and the Democratic Challenges in Africa”. Dr Afari-Gyan, who spoke on: “challenges Encountered in Acceptance of Election Results by Politicians in Africa”, said the use of biometric voter registration in Africa holds the promise of ending multiple registrations. He explained that preventing unqualified persons from registering for elections requires the collective effort of the Election Management Body (EMB), civil society organizations and the electorate. Dr Afari-Gyan said in some African countries, in-fighting associated with the nomination of candidates at the party level has generated more rancour and violence than main election campaign. He said sometimes the EMB place obstacles in the way of some prospective candidates or even sought to disqualify them without justifiable cause, adding that such candidates may be reluctant to accept results when they lose elections. Dr Afari-Gyan also said insufficient funding or late release of funds may make it difficult for the EMB to roll out an orderly and transparent process, to the discomfort of candidates and voters. He said the lack of planning may result in inadequate logistics and shortage of materials whiles corrupt officials both permanent and temporary may adulterate results leading to the cancellation of some results. Dr Afari-Gyan also said that one major flaw in African elections is the abuse of incumbency in terms of the use of state or government property in support of activities of the party in power. He cited that some governments interfere in elections administration, particularly at the regional and district levels where political bosses wrongly assume the position of election officials.