The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Charlotte Osei, yesterday gave the brightest indication of the EC’s preparedness to go by the recommendations of the panel of eminent Ghanaians spearheading the stakeholders’ forum on the voters’ register.
This was after she had allayed fears that surrounded some allegations made by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) through a picturesque presentation which was described by persons present as explanatory.
Mrs Osei gave the presentation on the second day of the forum after all the political parties and other stakeholders had taken their turns to state their positions on whether to compile a new voters register or audit the current one.
Touching on the option of a new register, she said there was the need to consider the timeline in respect of the drafting and passing of the appropriate legislation by Parliament, piloting, procurement of logistics, training, public education, registration period, data processing, data de-duplication, card production and distribution.
She said considering the staunch stances taken by the two major political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), opening 30,000 polling stations for a fresh register compilation would amount to “opening 30,000 conflict zones,” a move that would not ensure social stability.
Mrs Osei mentioned cost implications and the fact that such a new exercise must be underpinned by the production of a reliable national identity card, since the Supreme Court had outlawed the NHIS card.
But as the case was, she said, the country lacked such a common platform of a national identity and people had to rely on passports and driving licences, which are used by only a small size of the population.
About audit solutions, she said the mandatory exhibition of the register physically and through a website could be considered so that those who were unable to visit the centres physically could do so electronically through the Internet.
She also mentioned a computer analysis of the electronic copy of the register to determine the degree of error and demographic trends, among other indicators.
Field tests, she said, could also be undertaken to ascertain the statistical comprehensiveness and accuracy of the register as well as a surgical removal of verified errors and ineligible data.
Going forward, Mrs Osei, therefore, made a strong case for a compulsory national identity database that would serve as a resource avenue for the EC since registrants under such a national ID system could not lie about their age.
She also advocated the matching of the database of the EC with other biometric databases in the country, but hinted that a legal framework ought to be created to support cross-database matching.
Upgrades to register
Contrary to views being espoused that the EC had not made the necessary changes in the register since 2012, Mrs Osei said that there had been several upgrades since the last elections and that rather than seeing the current register as the 2012 register, it ought to be seen as the 2015 register.
The upgrades, she said, which were done in collaboration with the various political parties, had resulted in the deletion of 158,000 names from the electoral roll.
She quickly added that there were no allegations of multiple voting and dead persons voting in the 2012 elections, and stressed that although a perfect register was utopian, the current biometric system would not allow anyone to vote more than once.
Source: Daily Graphic
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