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19 May 2012 | Feature Article

A Ghanaian Challenges, and bares the Incompetence of, the Electoral Commission on the Biometric Registration Exercise

A Ghanaian Challenges, and bares the Incompetence of, the Electoral Commission on the Biometric Registration Exercise

Time has of late become so limited and too precious for me to be writing articles of any sort. I had decided to deal with certain personal vital issues before furthering my interests in sharing views with fellow Ghanaians on issues of national concern. However, a news item published on Ghanaweb under the General News of Saturday, 19 May 2012 captioned "EC to publish names of double registrants" cannot be let go without a response from me.

For clarity sake and the purpose of argument, permit me to quote excerpts from the said publication. "The Director of Information and Communication Technology Department of the EC, Gilbert Akomea said the retraction of the cards will help clean the register, which is in the process of being compiled. Mr. Akomea said, “for those who have done what we call unintentional double registration, we're going to go into a process of recalling one of the ID cards and this is where we're going to use the media." “It is right for us and lawful for us to take back the first ID card so that they might not use it to defraud the system so these are some of the things we'd be doing to eliminate the double registration"

I am happy about the initiative Mr Gilbert Akomea has taken to rectify a component of the perceived numerous attempts by dubious persons to mar the December 7, 2012 elections. As I have said in some of my previously published articles raising deep concerns about the biometric voter's registration exercise, the Electoral Commission and indeed the Director of Information and Communication Technology Department of the EC, Mr Gilbert Akomea, initially failed in his basic duties to Ghana. He should have implemented a basic policy to guarantee the avoidance of multiple registrations in the first place but he failed to. Firstly, all the biometric machines his department purchased for the registration exercise should have been synchronised prior to releasing them for the registration exercise. If they had, and all eligible voters were being registered to a specified fingerprint, say, the left thump, left index finger, the right thump or right index finger, and an address, age, name and gender, no one could have registered more than once let alone fifteen times without being caught there and then. All else can be fraudulently changed but not the fingerprint which is unique to each individual without its second anywhere on earth. Registering biometrically to a fingerprint alone is more than enough to prevent further dubious registrations for the same exercise or purpose. The Electoral Commission should please come out to explain why that fraud was possible in the first place.

Secondly, copying registrant's details onto a pen drive for onward uploading onto the main database in the EC's office in Accra was wrong. Pen drives which I rather prefer to call USB sticks owing to the community in which I currently find myself, can be corrupted somehow. The information copied onto USB sticks can inadvertently be wiped off or wiped off by technical dysfunction. This becomes noticeable only when you decide to upload the information contained on the USB stick onto the database. What do you do when faced with such situation? Do you go back calling out the supposed registrants from the affected electoral ward to register again? Will the laws in place permit them a second chance? Will they be ready to miss precious time, energy, job etc, to come out to register again even if the law grants them a second opportunity?

Information on USB sticks can be altered as and when the holder decides. When the holder is not honest, the whole exercise is jeopardised.

All those that registered more than once did so intentionally but not inadvertently as Mr Gilbert Akomea alleges. They may have changed their names, age, home or postal address to register for the other successive attempts. If one changes his or her name, age, address etc to avail him or herself of an opportunity, it is a deliberate attempt to cheat. This is a crime. Mr. Gilbert Akomea unfortunately claims such an attempt is unintentional (inadvertent). He is only trying to justify his mistakes that opened up the floodgate for dubious characters to register as many times as they did.

I will not delve into this issue as I am currently conducting some investigations into other aspects of the biometric voter's registration. I will publish my findings in due course. I have vowed to be of service to humanity, especially Ghanaians hence my interest to ensure the December 7, 2012 is flawless.

Mr Gilbert Akomea, could you please indicate the type and version of machines you used for the biometric voter's registration to me? This information is vital for my ongoing research on how best to minimise or eliminate any further malpractices associated with biometric registration and remote electronic voting.

Rockson Adofo

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