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30.03.2012 Editorial

EDITORIAL: Biometric Registration Blues

By Daily Graphic
EDITORIAL: Biometric Registration Blues
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The foundation of any credible election is a reliable and accurate electoral roll.

Since 1992, some observers have lamented over the bloated nature of the electoral roll, arguing that the situation lends itself to electoral fraud.

Frankly speaking, many electoral reforms have taken place since the first general election under the Fourth Republic in 1992.

From the time voters had ordinary ID cards, through to the voters ID cards being phased out which have the pictures of voters on them to the ongoing biometric registration, there is every indication that Ghana has come a long way in its attempt at perfecting the act of voting.

We also used opaque ballot boxes in the initial elections of the Fourth Republic but currently in use are the transparent ballot boxes.

Although presently everybody seems to be enthusiastic about the biometric registration exercise, there was lack of consensus when the idea was mooted.

The important thing is that the exercise is here and has been embraced by all the political parties and their supporters.

But there are worrying signals that must be addressed by the Electoral Commission if the process is not to become a recipe for electoral dispute.

The technical challenges on the first day were so overwhelming that some prospective voters demonstrated their frustration with threats of boycotting the exercise.

There were also reports of machomen terrorising applicants at certain registration centres.

We appeal to the EC to investigate all the issues that have come to its attention, with the view to ensuring that the people’s confidence in the process is maintained.

It also appears that in some places the people seem not to be aware of the whole exercise. This is where we think the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) needs to do more to sensitise the people to the need to involve themselves in the exercise.

The various political parties should also educate their members to partake in the exercise. The parties must also desist from mobilising people to intimidate their opponents. That is not the way to go even before we get to the election proper, knowing that the future of democracy rests on credible elections.

The Daily Graphic recalls that some of the reasons for the civil strifes in failed states on the continent can be attributed to disputes over electoral matters.

We should learn useful lessons from those who took the path of violence, instead of allowing the ballot box to determine those who have the mandate to govern.

The Daily Graphic has realised that there is no special dispensation for the aged and the vulnerable in the ongoing biometric registration exercise, as they all queue with able-bodied persons to register. Let the EC provide special dispensation for these groups of people during the exercise.

We appreciate the efforts of the EC but we believe it must take urgent steps to address the challenges as they emerge and not to sweep them under the carpet. The tendency to treat such problems as business as usual will not help the cause of the biometric registration.

We also entreat applicants to demonstrate civility at the registration centres. It is not in anybody’s interest for a group of individuals to take the law into their own hands just because the process is slow.

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