Ghana not ready for biometric voting, says Afari-Gyan
The prospects that Ghana will soon be using bio-metric voting in subsequent elections will for now remain a mere dream, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), has stated.
He stated strongly that the electoral process has been tinted with suspicion and the likelihood of the sections of the electorate raising questions about the genuineness of scheme will be high.
He says for now the EC is considering the bio-metric registration but not bio-metric voting. "The Commission is considering bio-metric registration of voters but as for bio-metric voting, I don't think the country is ready for it. If we do, I believe some people will start asking whether the Castle has not programmed the machines with some figures to their advantage".
Dr. Afari-Gyan disclosed these while responding to questions following his delivery of paper at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) 5th Kronti ne Akwamu lecture in Accra.
His topic was "The Challenges to Conducting Free and Fair Elections in Emerging African Democracies: The Case of Ghana." It attracted participants which included the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, Ms. Audery Gadzekpo of the School of Communication Studies, Politicians, Academia, Civil Society and the Media.
The incredibility or otherwise of an election, he observes, depends on multifaceted factors which include the expertise and skills of the EC, timely release of resources by government for the prosecution of the elections, free and fair reportage by media, and contestant conducting civil campaigns.
Additionally, there should be avoidance of multiple voting, the protection of ballot boxes by the security services and the speedy adjudication of election dispute. Dr. Afari-Gyan says the focus of the EC is to ensure the integrity of the electoral system, which will survive individuals and can stand the test of time by pre-emptying many of the troubles that have derailed many democracies in Africa.
He regretted that as of now, there is not a collective sense of ownership of the electoral processes on the part of the political parties and this was worrying. While he lauds the code of conduct for political parties, he notes, "a code of conduct without legal backing is fruitless."
He said some of the blame put upon the police during election was misplaced because the issues involved were administrative matters and structural problems beyond their control. He sited as an example, somebody who was arrested by the police in the Volta Region for crossing the border to take pictures meant for the registration of voters. He said the culprit was first kept in the custody at the Kedjebi Police Station and later transferred to the Hohoe Police Station. But upon the instruction of some big man somewhere, he was set free. Dr. Afar-Gyan said he welcomes any collaboration between the EC and the National Identification Authority (NIA) since the latter's work will complement that of the EC. He nonetheless warned " the NIA's work is not fool proof since it will have similar problems like the EC relative to registration in border towns.”
The Kronti ne Akwamu lecture is an annual public lecture on democracy and good governance instituted by CDD-Ghana. The lectures feature distinguished scholars and practitioners around the world whose work focus on democracy building and fostering good governance.
Such eminent personalities are provided with a forum to share with a wider public their knowledge and insight into crucial matters pertaining to Africa/ Ghanaian democratic governance and stimulate public debate on issues. The lectures are therefore aimed at bridging the gab between the scholars and pro-democracy and good governance advocacy.
In his closing remarks, the chairman for the event, Mr. Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, a retired Supreme Court Judge and currently a Statute Law Revision Commissioner, espoused some of the point by Dr. Afari-Gyan, emphasizing that the process of organizing credible elections and building a strong democratic Ghana is a collective responsibility of all Ghanaians.
Source: Public Agenda