IDEG-CFI assess biometric registration exercise
5/3/2012 1:00:39 PM -
By: Tim Hinchliffe
The Civic Forum Initiative (CFI), in collaboration with the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), has revealed the positive and negative developments observed at biometric registration centers in 30 constituencies across the ten regions.
According to the official press release issued yesterday, the preliminary findings of the observation have revealed developments that 'require both immediate and long term interventions from stakeholders.'
On the positive developments, the IDEG-CFI noted that there had been satisfactory progress in the attempt to register eligible voters for the 2012 elections, with most centers achieving daily targets of about 100 people, which is evidenced by the nearly ten million who have so far been registered.
The statement went on to praise the efforts of the Electoral Commission (EC) in responding to equipment breakdowns, as well as the priority and attention given to the elderly, pregnant women, and nursing mothers to register.
The IDEG-CFI also acknowledged that there had been a general understanding and demonstration of good behaviour by party agents in most of the centers, and there had been remedial steps taken by the EC and Police Service to deal with the issue of violence, while regular media coverage of the exercise had been informing the public of developments.
Concerning negative developments, the IDEG-CFI reported intimidation and violent conduct of National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) agents and activists at some registration centers that threatened law enforcement and overall peace.
The media has also been blamed for over concentrating on pockets of violent cases. There have also been intermittent equipment breakdowns such as freezing of computers, non-functioning scanners, poor printer outputs, and shortages of stationary experienced in some centers at the start of the exercise.
Other non-technical problems include the inadequate knowledge of party agents and representatives about the registration procedures and regulations, as well as low public education and awareness of the exercise schedules, which led to mass rushes of people registering at the start of the exercise, resulting in long queues and heckling at some centers.
Poor registration locations and lack of contingency plans led some centers to be suspended due to weather conditions. The IDEG-CFI report stressed that 'the majority of these negative developments are not due to the adoption of biometric technology, but to human conduct. It would, therefore, be unfair to assess the success of the BVR [Biometric Voters' Registration] on the basis of ordinary human failing of our politicians.'
Recognising that the on-going biometric voter registration exercise was a national exercise geared towards safeguarding the votes of the electorate, and enhancing the credibility of election results, the IDEG-CFI alerted the Ghanaian public that, 'The power to deliver credible and peaceful elections lies in our hands as a people, and that at the level of the state and CSOs, efforts are being made to ensure that we go into election 2012 and come out of it peacefully.'
To address the problems with the registration process, the IDEG-CFI urged that the presidential candidates of the two parties call on their supporters to avoid violence and bloodshed, and that the police should swiftly investigate and expedite action on all reported cases of violence, while prosecuting offenders without fear or favor.
The Commission advised that political parties should vigorously educate and strengthen the knowledge and understanding of their agents and activists on the biometric voter registration and other electoral processes, in order to avoid their interference in the registration and other electoral processes.
The IDEG-CFI called on the EC to guard against the infiltration of unqualified voters such as non-Ghanaians and underage citizens, and that any equipment issues should be addressed without delay.
The report also stated that the media should avoid unethical and sensational reportage of electoral issues to avoid reprisal attacks, and reminded Ghanaians that 'The country's remarkable achievements in the conduct and management of elections should be an inspiration for all to act in ways that will ensure the peace and stability of the nation at all times.'