CODEO PRESS STATEMENT ON THE BIOMETRIC VOTER REGISTRATION EXERCISE
“Based on the over 6,188 processed observation checklists out of the expected 6,200 submitted by our observers, representing almost 100% of the expected data, CODEO reiterates, its broad satisfaction with the conduct of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise, notwithstanding the initial anxieties surrounding the fate of the exercise”. CODEO commends all Ghanaians, particularly, the Electoral Commission of Ghana, the Ghana Police Service, and civil society organizations for their role in helping to bring this phase of the compilation of voters’ roll to a successful end.
CODEO, however, noted some irregularities and challenges in the last two phases of the exercise similar to some of those highlighted previously in its April 24 interim report. These irregularities and challenges relate to the following; poor understanding and application of the eligibility criteria for registration, particularly, criteria to residency, age, identification and procedures for guarantors and challenges; inadequate supervision of electoral officials in the field; equipment malfunction and repair/replacement time; as well as challenges of the police in dealing with the activities of so-called monitoring teams of political parties and other criminal elements.
“It is noteworthy, however, that CODEO observers noticed significant improvement in addressing the above challenges over the period of the last two phases of the registration exercise”, as pointed out by Professor Miranda Greenstreet, one of the co-Chairs of CODEO. Professor Greenstreet cited as an example of such improvements “………. quick police action to check the movement of unauthorized people into specific registration centers went a long way in minimizing the incidence of violent clashes between rival party activists.”
The CODEO statement urged that “[T]o prevent any national crisis during the pending polls in December, serious care must be taken to provide adequate protection of the verification equipment from the weather, and provide back-ups and technician’s support”, the statement noted. CODEO also recommended to the EC that any extension of the exercise should also consider students who were writing exams during the period of registration.
CODEO recommended further to the EC to be very thorough and diligent in implementing the next stages of compiling the voters register. “The work of the District Registration Review Committees must be fully supported and observed by all stakeholders, particularly the media,…….and the EC must deal appropriately with all cases of multiple registration and challenges that were filed by voters during the exercise”, noted Justice VCRAC Crabbe, the co-Chair of CODEO.
Continuing with CODEO’s plans for the biometric voter registration exercise, Justice Crabbe stated: “as we all know, the EC has yet to finalize the BVR process that began on 24th March 2012. Indeed, the exercise cannot be said to be concluded until the EC issues a certified voter register. CODEO will, therefore, continue with its observation of the BVR process, particularly the work of the district registration review committees and the exhibition of the provisional biometric voters’ register.”
CODEO is currently made up of 39 secular, religious and non-governmental organizations. For the Biometric Voter Registration observation, CODEO trained and deployed 620 persons to observe the exercise from March 24th to May 5th. The observation covered a random sample of 620 polling stations in 100 districts in all 10 regions of Ghana. CODEO was able to observe the conduct of the BVR in the metropolitan areas, such as Accra as well as in rural areas such as Bodi in the Western Region or Saboba in the Northern Region of Ghana. This approach to deploying observers allowed CODEO to obtain an accurate and a nationwide overview of how the BVR exercise has been implemented so far.
CODEO’s Biometric Voter Registration observation project is supported by the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DfID) which is providing generous assistance to its 620 observers involved in the observation, and to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which is supporting the general pre-election environment monitoring.
CODEO will issue its final report on the entire exercise after the registration process has run its full course and the voters register has been certified by the EC.
Professor Miranda Greenstreet
Justice VCRAC Crabbe