CODEO says biometric registration exercise has been peaceful
4/25/2012 12:00:49 AM -
Accra, April 24, GNA - An interim observation report on the ongoing Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) exercise released by the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) in Accra on Tuesday has described the exercise as largely peaceful.
It said there were however, a few registration centres, particularly in urban areas, where some sporadic violent incidents had been recorded, but violence was not widespread.
'The fact that over eight million people have registered so far is evidence of peaceful registration exercise,' Professor Mirinda Greenstreet, Co-Chair, CODEO explained during a media briefing.
She said with support from DFID, CODEO trained and deployed 620 observers for the BVR under the supervision of 50 regional coordinators within the first two phases of the exercise, covering a random sample of 300 polling stations in 100 districts in all 10 Regions of Ghana.
Some of the areas covered included Bosome Freho in Ahanti Region, Bodi, Nzulezu and Akontombra in Western Region and Piitanga in Upper East Region.
Prof Greenstreet said the observers spent 10 days at each polling stations and collected information on the proceedings at the centres for the period they were opened, adding that, by the commencement of the third phase of the registration exercise, CODEO had collected observation data from over half of the 620 selected registrations centres.
She said attention was paid to the conduct of the Electoral Commission's registration staff, supply and handling of equipment and materials, conduct of party representatives, role of the police and response of the public to the exercise.
Prof. Greenstreet said on the strength of 1,000 processed observation check lists, out of the over 3,000 submitted by the observers, it could broadly confirm with satisfaction that majority of the voting public had readily heeded the call to register, with most of the centres following the procedures laid down for the registrations of voters.
However, the report said there were some irregularities, many of which were due to technical flaws and inattention to operational details on the part of the EC field staff.
There were problems caused by inappropriate behaviour on the part of some party activists in and around specific registration centres as well as the actions and inactions of police personnel.
The report said many of the anomalies could be rectified with closer supervision by the EC field staff but other anomalies merited more fundamental reforms to the operational procedures for the BVR and strict enforcement of the registration laws by the EC and the police.
It indicated that only a few of the centres opened on or before the appointed time of 0700 with over 95 per cent of the centres opening before 0730. Others closed a little earlier than stipulated.
The report said the absence of police oversight at some centres gave room to unauthorised persons to enter a few centres unnoticed by the registrations officials and the criteria for eligibility were not strictly adhered to as well as identification of documents were not demanded.
It noted that the procedure for challenging suspected ineligible registrants were followed in most cases but at some centres in the urban areas, there were problems, due to weak understanding and inadequate explanation of the residency requirements or regulations for the voter registration.
The report said two per cent of registration centres recorded instances of challenges and eight per cent of registration centres recorded some form of equipment malfunctioning.
It captured a few violent incidents across the country during the period and revealed that the start-of-day and close-of-day protocols of the exercise were not always observed.
In addition the routine of printing and issuing close-of-day reports to party agents were not strictly adhered to in some registration centres.
CODEO said the inability of EC officials to follow that protocol could provide grounds for some people to contest the final voter registrations figures.
The report recommended that EC and the courts should prosecute as quickly as possible, those individuals who attempted to register more than once, and that the EC should find a fall-back mechanism that was safe and acceptable to all stakeholders for the main voting process.
It called on the EC to enhance the capacity of its registration officers to enable them to enforce compliance with correct procedure and resist intimidation from all quarters.
The report asked the EC to re-state in a clearer manner what it meant to be 'ordinarily resident' and therefore eligible to register in a given electoral area.
It entreated the police to be professional in dealing with violence and other electoral offences in order to improve their public image and enhance public confidence and trust in the Service and the entire electoral process.
The report advised the media to avoid inflaming passions during live broadcast, urging them to use signal delay technology and other mechanisms to cut out inflammatory statements.