National Peace Council
42 Independent Avenue, Ridge
BIOMETRIC DATABASE IS USELESS WITHOUT A NEW VOTERS’ REGISTER
I write to you Mr. Chairman, on the above subject, which discussions and utterances from key members of NPP and NDC Political Parties have reached a crescendo on traditional media and social media platforms. Our 27 years of democracy is under great threat and if we are not careful, it could lead to the Civil War due to ignorance and an unclear understanding of the “New Voters’ Register”.
On the 14th of May, 2020, both the NDC and NPP displayed their ignorance of the difference between a “New Voters’ Register” and a “New Biometric Data” in respective press conferences they held. It was quite intriguing when such sincere ignorance leads to calls for civil war. Martin Luther King was right when he said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”.
In their press conference, the NDC stated, “ The implication is that, almost 11 million (constituting 62%) of eligible voters will have to go through the sworn oath option to be able to register for a Voters’ ID, if the EC’s illogical and wasteful decision to compile a needless new Voter’s Register for the 2020 general elections materializes…. Indeed, many are those who have responded to the situation by even publicly questioning the rationale for a new voters’ register when the nation has an existing voters’ register which has delivered two (2) credible general elections and three credible (3) District Level Elections with legitimate outcomes”.
Meanwhile, the NPP at their press conference also opined, “We want the people of Ghana to ask the NDC this simple but important question: so what is it about the 2012 voters register that the NDC is so determined to protect it from being replaced? What is in that 2012 register that the NDC is threatening civil war if it is changed for a better one?”
These opinions from the two political parties only serve to draw a red herring across the trail of the actual issues that ought to be discussed. They are needless, misguided and beside the point.
There is the need for clarification of what a New Voters Register and a New Biometric Data implies if we are to be able to explore the best solution for a credible election.
New Voters’ Register
Since 1992, the EC has created a new voter register for each election. As a matter of fact, every election creates a new voter register. New voters register is created even for the intra party primaries elections among political parties, especially NPP and NDC. The registers are always update for the following reasons: addition of new names (people who had not registered to vote when they turned 18 for one reason or the other); people who turned 18 after the last election (people turn 18 everyday); removal of dead people; individuals may have moved from their polling station or constituency or District or region; districts or constituencies can also increase and different codes need to be assigned to new polling stations created as a result.
All these changes make each election have its own credible, unique and New Register. Without a New Voters’ Register for each election, so many people will be disenfranchised and there will also e an abundance of ghost names, leaving room for stuffing of ballots.
It is therefore out of sincere ignorance, when people argue that a credible voters’ register for 2012 election should also be credible for 2016 and unimaginably so for 2020 elections. Even the New Voters’ Register created for the December, 2019 District Level Elections (DOE) cannot be credible for 2020 elections.
New Biometric Data
In 2012, Ghana decided to procure a top-edge and expensive Biometric Voter Management System Technology (BVMS). This was due to dishonesty and rigging in our previous elections.
The process in creating a credible voter register requires that a technology is used to enhance accuracy for voters to exercise their sovereign franchise. The technology procured is a MEANS to creating an END (New Voters’ Register). The technology does not make the register new or old. The technology procured will determine the process required to create a credible voter’s register. In summary, to get an accurate and credible New Voter’s Register, the Biometric Data gathered is used to ensure that the voter is identified to cast his/her vote based on universal adult suffrage.
The UK, for instance has procured an Intelligent Addressing Technology to create their Voters’ Register for each election. The process requires letters to be sent to Land Lords to confirm qualified tenants who are eligible voters. There are penalties for false information. So, voting cards are sent to voters with their names to their addresses to cast their votes.
How this affects 2020 Elections
Our BVMS requires capturing of Biometrics data (fingerprints and facial) and Biodata (Name, photo, age, address, hometown, etc) of Voters. In addition, the BVMS also includes hardwares (BVR KITS, BVDS), software, communications gadgets and data centre that are used to ensure quality and to protect data losses of voters.
The capturing of the Biometrics is the bottleneck event without which the Biometric Data cannot be updated and which will mean the credibility and accuracy of New Voters’ Register for 2020 elections becomes questionable. From the above explanation of how a New Register is needed for each election and how biometric data ensures a credible New Register, it is clear that there cannot be elections in 2020 if there is no New biometrically verified register.
The EC has demonstrated how the old biometric technology that was used had loopholes and was not credible. The EC cannot create a credible register with unreliable BVRs, BVDs Communication Equipment, Data Centre and Software all together known as BVMS. The NDC are welcome to tell Ghanaians, how the 2020 credible Voters’ Register can be created without updated or new Biometric Data with the newly acquired BVMS.
The issue of contention has to do with for the EC to either compile new Biometric Data of all Voters or to limit compilation to new registrants especially those turning 18 years and above to update the existing Biometric Data. Either way the process of creating new and credible Biometric voters’ register has to be followed.
Barring the technical issues of integrating the Biometric template of the old BVMS and the new BVMS, the old existing Biometric data of voters has over a million dead voters and other undesirables that affect the credibility of the Biometric voter register that will be created for 2020 elections. Compiling all voter Biometric data can enable EC eliminate most errors and improve fingerprint and photos storage.
Covid-19 cannot be used to disenfranchise eligible new voters as it will be unconstitutional. If Ghanaians decide not to allow EC due to Covid -19 to update the biometric data, the constitutional provision to form a new interim government shall be followed with new appointments not based on partisan orientation be made.
The EC should take all these into consideration and take the best stance that can still offer Ghana a credible new register for 2020 elections.
Are there other options available for EC to improve and update the Biometric Data? Yes there is.
We would suggest that if Covid-19 cannot be dealt with then EC should consider limited registration with a CI for compulsory verification and validation of all voters for the 2020 elections. Any voter that fails to verify and validate shall be expunged from the register. Such a compromise should be the best alternative to compiling a new voters’ biometric data.
If there is any opposition leader or political entity that wants Nana-Bawumia government to be voted out, that will be Jacob Osei Yeboah. This is due to high rates of corruption and increase in debt stock with little infrastructure to showcase and also the destruction of wealth policies.
Nevertheless, civil and due legal procedures should be followed competently. I do agree with NDC that there is strong evidence by their statistics an attempted suppression of NIA Card acquisition. The NIA, EC and NPP conspiracy cannot be ignored but the argument is not strong enough.
Especially, when the EC is not going to utilize NIA’s biometric data to create the 2020 voters’ register as both Biometric data are mutually exclusive. The EC is also not redefining Ghanaian citizenship by Passport and NIA Card holders because the guarantors’ option is available.
Ghanaians should not follow the incompetent twins, NPP and NDC, to destroy Ghana 2020 elections. It is clear that the NDC and NPP do not know the difference between VOTERS' REGISTER and BIOMETRIC DATABASE.
I will urge the NPC, National Security and key stakeholders of our sovereignty to support the EC in carrying out her mandate so we can hold her accountable; nevertheless any substantive apprehension from all quarters should be attended to for its professional and patriotic viable.
The office of JOY2012 hopes that a committee comprising of NPC, Eminent Advisory Committee of EC, National Security be set up to clarify and establish the roadmap towards 2020 election.
Jacob Osei Yeboah (JOY2012)
2012 & 2016 Independent Presidential Candidate
2020 Independent Presidential Aspirant
Cc: Eminent Advisory Committee, EC