Residential Addresses Biggest Challenge To Biometric Registration
3/6/2012 10:33:55 AM -
The inability of some qualified voters to provide their residential addresses was a major challenge in the just-ended pilot biometric registration exercise, the Electoral Commission (EC) has said.
It has, therefore, set in motion a strategy to ensure that all the major challenges and other minor difficulties are resolved before the nation-wide biometric voters registration begins from the March 24, 2012.
But some political parties have underscored the need for the EC to embark on intensive public education immediately to ensure that prospective voters become aware of what is required of them at the registration centres before the nation-wide registration exercise begins.
Briefing the Daily Graphic on the EC's findings and impressions about the just-ended pilot biometric registration exercise, the Director of Communications at the EC, Mr Christian Owusu Parry, said the commission observed that many people could not provide their home addresses in their home towns.
He said many people who were asked to provide their residential addresses in their home towns could not do so and that predicament was partly responsible for the long delays in the registration process.
He said the EC was receiving detailed reports from the 340 centres where the exercise took place to get a detailed picture of all the challenges.
Mr Parry noted that the commission was putting together vigorous and sustained education to ensure that the Ghanaian electorate was adequately informed on what was required of any prospective voter before he or she got to the registration centres.
On the question of the determination of who a qualified Ghanaian voter was, the EC Chief Communicator said the person must be able to show a voters identity card, a driving licence, a passport or a national identity card.
He said according to the regulations, those who could not produce any of the above identification documentation must be identified as a true Ghanaian by two registered voters who are also Ghanaians.
He explained that the people who identified the person without any identity proving him or her to be Ghanaian could not do same for more than five persons.
He reiterated the EC's call on every Ghanaian to be extra vigilant during the registration exercise to ensure that minors and non-Ghanaians did not participate in the exercise.
He noted that although the biometric equipment might detect multiple registration, it could not tell who was not a Ghanaian or who was a minor.
Although the political parties described the pilot exercise as generally successful, they said more education would reduce the amount of time each person spent at the registration centre and prevent situations where qualified voters would be found wanting.
Presenting the views of the People's National Convention (PNC), its National Youth Organiser, Alhaji Ramadan, said time was against the EC for it to experiment with registration officials other than teachers.
According to him, the party was yet to fully assess the whole exercise but added, 'It was an effort that needed appreciation.''
According to the Communications Director of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Mr Armah Akomfrah, the pilot exercise had revealed an 85 per cent chance that the 2012 elections could eliminate election irregularities such as double voting.
He expressed profound worry over the time allocated to register each person, saying, 'It is too much for an individual to spend 45 minute before another person can be attended to.''
He also complained about the quality of the images produced, the qualified personnel involved in the exercise and the electorate's inability to give accurate residential addresses.
The Director of Elections for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, expressed concern over the way most people could not present the needed identification required of eligible voters because they were not aware of the requirement.
He said there was every indication that in the densely populated urban areas, people would queue for hours before being registered.
He said another challenge that cropped up was the poor quality of pictures provided and inconsistency in the number registered at the centres, compared with the numbers collated by the machine at the end of the day.
At the time of going to the press, the Daily Graphic had not succeeded in reaching representatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the Progressive People's Party (PPP) for their comments.