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CODEO PROVISIONAL REPORT ON THE BIOMETRIC VOTER REGISTRATION EXCERCISE MARCH 24-MAY 5 2012

THE COALITION OF DOMESTIC ELECTION OBSERVERS (CODEO) PROVISIONAL REPORT ON THE BIOMETRIC VOTER REGISTRATION EXERCISE (MARCH 24 – MAY 5 2012) A MEDIA BRIEFING AT THE GHANA CENTER FOR DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT (CDD-Ghana), the Secretariat of CODEO, ON THURSDAY, 17TH MAY 2012 AT 10.00AM.
Introduction
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), I welcome you to this media briefing. This briefing is the second by CODEO on its nationwide observation of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise undertaken by the Electoral Commission (EC). 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 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 At CODEO’s first media briefing held on April 24, 2012, we presented to you interim findings of our observation. Today’s briefing is aimed at sharing with the media and the Ghanaian public CODEO’s provisional findings of the just concluded phase of registering eligible Ghanaian voters ahead of the 2012 polls. The provisional findings CODEO is making public today capture our overall observations between March 24 and May 5, 2012.  CODEO and 2012  lections CODEO is currently made up of 39 secular, religious and non-governmental organizations (See  Appendix A for the list of CODEO members). For the 2012 elections, CODEO is observing the entire biometric voter registration, is conducting a nine-month pre-election observation of the political and lectioneering acivities in elected constituencies throughout the country, and will on polling day on December 7, deploy pproximately 4000 observers to selected polling stations throughout the country. In addition, ODEO will repeat the parallel vote tabulation (PVT) methodology for domestic election bservation, which was successfully implemented during the 2008 polls, on election-day. inally, CODEO will retain 25 people to observe post-election activities, including the djudication of election related disputes that may arise. CODEO is grateful to the United ingdom Department of International Development (DfID) which is providing generous ssistance to its 620 observers involved in the BVR observation, and to the United States Agency or International Development (USAID) for supporting the pre-election observation exercise ncluding the BVR observation. ethodology for the Biometric Voter Registration Observation or the Biometric Voter Registration observation, CODEO trained and deployed 620 persons to bserve the exercise. Under the supervision of 50 Regional Coordinators, these persons observed he four phases of the BVR exercise from March 24th to May 5th. The observation covered a andom sample of 620 polling stations in 100 districts in all 10 regions of Ghana. As a result, ODEO was able to observe the conduct of the BVR in the metropolitan areas, such as Accra as ell as in rural areas such as Bodi in the Western Region or Saboba in the Northern Region of hana. 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. he 620 observers were deployed to individual polling stations for 10 days. Guided by a tandardized checklist, the observers collected information on the proceedings at the registration enters for the days they were opened. By the close of the fourth (and last phase) of the registration exercise, CODEO had received about 6,000 checklists. The collected checklists were nalyzed and the findings form the basis of this provisional report CODEO is sharing with you oday. CODEO observers paid close attention to all aspects of the BVR exercise, including the onduct of the EC registration staff, the supply and handling of equipment and materials, the onduct of party representatives, the role of the police, and the response of the public to the xercise.
 

Summary of CODEO Observations
Based on 6,188 processed observation checklists out of the 6,200 expected from our observers representing 99.8%), CODEO reiterates its broad satisfaction with the conduct of the BVR xercise, notwithstanding the initial anxieties surrounding the fate of the exercise. CODEO commends all Ghanaians, the Electoral Commission of Ghana, the Ghana Police Service, civil ociety organizations and political parties for their role in helping to bring this phase of the
compilation of voters’ roll to a successful end. ccording to the EC’s preliminary figures about 13 million people were captured for the new iometric voter register. From our observations of all the four phases of the exercise, CODEO an now confirm that a majority of the registration centers observed largely followed procedures aid down for the registration of voters. owever, CODEO observers have also reported some irregularities and challenges in the last wo phases of the exercise similar to some of those highlighted previously in our April report. hese related to the following: a) Poor understanding and application of the eligibility criteria for registration, particularly, riteria related to residency, age, identification and procedures for guarantors and hallenges; b) Inadequate supervision of electoral officials in the field; c) Equipment malfunction and repair/replacement time; and d) Challenges of the police in dealing with the activities of so-called monitoring teams of olitical parties and other criminal elements. t 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. For xample, quick police action to check the movement of unauthorized people into specific egistration centers went a long way in minimizing the incidence of violent clashes between rival arty activists. imilarly, registration officials of the EC paid closer attention to the challenge procedure and nsisted on challengers making use of only the challenge form to protest against registrants uspected to be ineligible. ODEO however observed very little improvements in addressing the problems of equipment reakdown in most affected areas. This technical challenge may well affect the integrity of the iometric registration during the final two phases of the exercise. lso in the last phase of the BVR exercise, CODEO observers report a number of incidents of hortage of materials. As a result, the ‘one-stop shop’ process of capturing the bio data and ssuing of voter ID cards to registrants could not be done at some of the registration centers. egistrants had to repeat visits to the EC offices to collect their voter ID cards. ow that the compilation phase of the biometric voter registration has been completed, it is time o address a number of outstanding issues as well as new ones, including the following: . Whether or not the 40 days allocated to the BVR exercise for capturing the bio data of ligible Ghanaians need to be extended in some particular areas of the country and for
specific target groups such as students who were writing exams during the exercise; . What the EC intends to and will do about the close to 9,000 double registration cases it as identified; . The issue of the registration of prisoners; . The effective management of the next phases of the exercise including the conduct of the ationwide fingerprint matching, the work of the District Registration Review ommittees and the production of a provisional and exhibition of the provisional register.


Specific Findings
In addition to these issues, CODEO would like to bring to the attention of stakeholders the ollowing specific findings:
Opening and Closing of centers
Our preliminary analysis of about half (49%) of the checklists received reveals that registration  enters frequently close at the scheduled time of 6pm or beyond. However, about the same roportion (47%) of checklists processed show that some registration centers also frequently losed before 6pm.The situation of early closure and in some cases late opening of registration enters appear to have been more pronounced during the last two phases of the exercise when quipment breakdown became more frequent. The advertised opening and closing hours of the Centers were no longer being adhered to in the inal phase of the exercise. Centers closed when the printers could no longer print the card and   could only resume several hours or days later after technicians succeeded in fixing the problem.
This state of affairs caused considerable inconvenience to many registrants. For instance the  CODEO observer at Zuabuliga Primary School registration center in Pusiga, Bawku, reported  that the registration center did not open at all on the last day of the exercise due to shortage of  registration materials. Meanwhile 200 people had come to center to register at the time the observer recorded the incident. identity check of registrants in many rural registration centers, registration officials continued to ignore the instruction to ask registrants to produce identification documents or even to call guarantors. In other registration centers, attempts by registration officers to enforce the I.D. requirement and insist on proof of age or citizenship provoked some misunderstanding and commotion. For example, at the hirifoyili JHS registration center in Tolon, a gang of youths from the community had a riotous confrontation with the registration team on April 4 for insisting that some registrants suspected to be minors produce proof. This led to the closure of registration center before the scheduled time of 6pm.  This practice may have contributed to the increased registration of minors. Overall, CODEO recorded 22 incidents of registration of minors. The Challenge procedure CODEO observed improvements in the application of the challenge procedure. As registration officials became more assertive and insisted on challengers complying with the correct
procedure, conflicts among party agents and prospective registrants reduced. Indeed, CODEO observers noted that some would-be challengers recoiled when told to complete the forms. unfortunately, some party agents resorted to challenging registrants outside vicinity of the registration centers. At one registration center in Gbledi-Chebi Electoral area near Hohoe in the Volta Region, two NDC party agents compelled a registration officer to register one prospective registrant who did not have and ID and was known to be a Togolese. The NPP party agent immediately challenged this registrant. As a result of the intimidation and harassment of EC officials the center was forced to close at 3.40pm. A similar incident was captured at Mansen Affiliate registration center in Dorma East constituency of the Brong Ahafo region. Here, the NPP agents and other youth in the community guaranteed for four registrants resident in the community but the NDC party agents protested against the registration leading the suspension of the registration for about 30 minutes. The four people were later allowed to register and for NDC party agent to file a challenge against all of four.


Equipment Malfunction
The breakdown, repair or replacement of components of the registration kit was, by far, the most common challenge of the registration exercise particularly during the last phase. Almost all the various equipment supplied by the EC at a number of centers observed, suffered breakdown at one time or the other. The printers would not print, the fingerprint scanner would no longer recognize finger prints, the webcam could take only blurred photos and computers would not respond to command. Sometimes, these severely malfunctioning equipment, had to be carted to the technicians in the district offices or the regional headquarters of the EC for repair or replacement.Overall, CODEO recorded 106 incidents of kit malfunctioning. These problems caused delays and those registrants who could not bear the long wait left the registration centers. At other times, prospective registrants decided not to return to register because of the uncertainty regarding the reopening of the centres where the process had been suspended as result of malfunctioning equipment.

Deviation from EC Registration Procedures
Another issue of concern related to the problem of equipment breakdown was that many of the registration staff used it as an excuse to violate some of the important registration procedures, particularly the following:
a) Pre-mature fingerprint capture: As a result of the heat at the registration centers in Northern Ghana, some of the fingerprint scanners could not operate after the morning hours. Some registration officers tried to get around the problem by capturing the fingerprints of many registrants before they screening and interviewing for their bio-data, taking advantage of the cool morning hours.

b) previously completed Form 1A: In some highly populated Electoral Areas in the cities where the registration teams seemed to be overwhelmed by the long queues of prospective registrants, EC officials were reported to have conducted interviews to complete the Form 1A without proceeding to complete the other processes like data entry, preferring to complete the process the following day. the outcomes of the foregoing deviations could cause integrity problems for the final
biometric register when it is done.
Supervision of EC Temporary Staff
The data processed so far indicate that visits of EC monitors to the registration centers were quite nfrequent. About 61% of the checklists processed show that no EC monitors visited the registration center. Only about a third of the checklists (33%) indicate the presence of EC monitors over the period of the exercise. As you are all aware, the BVR is a novelty in Ghana’s electoral processes. As such the EC indicated that it was going to deploy a number of supervisors to monitor the activities of the about 50,000 temporary staff that had been recruited to conduct the exercise. CODEO believes that if the EC had invested more time in the supervision of temporary staff, some the challenges experienced on the field could have been minimized. In some cases EC officials gave contrary instructions to registration center officials adding to the confusion on the application of the registration rules. Police Presence and Actions at the Registration Centers since the last CODEO interim statement on April 24th deploring police inaction in stemming the incidence of unauthorized persons disrupting registration activities, our observers noted that police patrol contingents moved into some Electoral Areas and took position at a number of identifiable registration centers. This action prevented the frequently reported clashes between rival political party activists in earlier times. At Kadjebi in the Volta region, a district police monitoring team which was formed to monitor some of the hot spots chased out a group of  "achomen’ riding motorbikes who were reported to be harassing and intimidating registrants at the Yaadzo Cocoashed registration center on suspicion that the registrants were Togolese citizens. As promised, CODEO has continued to monitor the progress of police action on a number of incidents recorded in our last report and wish to share with the general public. (See Appendix B):
 

Recommendations
CODEO commends the EC for carrying through with the Biometric data capture for a new voters’ register. CODEO, however, expresses serious concern about the frequent breakdown of equipment in the field. To prevent any severe 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 adequate technician support.


Extension of Registration Exercise: The high incidence of equipment breakdown and suspension of registration in some areas justify an extension of the exercise in those areas. Any extension should also consider students who were writing exams during the  period of registration.


Cleaning the Register: CODEO calls on 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. CODEO deems it important to remind the EC to remain on course to deal appropriately with all cases of multiple registration and challenges that were filed by voters during the exercise. In particular, CODEO proposes that the various agencies that have a critical role to play in the speedy disposal of these cases, notably, the EC, police and the Judiciary, set up
task forces to deal with them. In addition, the incidence of minors registering and irregularities recorded by CODEO must prompt the EC to screen the Automated


Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS)  for suspected cases for further investigation. In respect of this issue, CODEO enjoins the EC to be as transparent as
possible by sharing with the public its procedures for determining cases that will be bassed on the police and which ones will not, and to inform the public when it has completed the nationwide fingerprint matching.


Voter Education: Since the election process is still in progress, CODEO calls on the EC and all civic and voter education organizations and groups to continue to create awareness of the electoral process and its activities. The EC, in particular, should do adequate public education about the work of the District Registration Review committees. In this regard, CODEO calls on the EC to work more effectively with  CCE to tackle systematically the challenges of low voter education.


Personnel Training: CODEO re-emphasizes its demand for quality training and
supervision of the temporary staff of the EC. The need for thorough screening of
recruited field staff for partisan sympathies and for clerical proficiency remains
imperative. Furthermore, CODEO calls on the EC to develop a dedicated cadre of EC
monitors to keep the field staff on their toes at all times.


Political Parties and their Agents: CODEO repeats its appeal to the political parties to
restrain their agents from behavior that contravenes the election rules and regulations.
Intensive training and orientation on the election rules, code of conduct for political
parties and the public order laws will go a long way in properly positioning the party
agents to play a more developmental role in the electoral process.


Policing the Electoral Process: CODEO acknowledges the efforts the police made to
process cases brought before them. But CODEO implores the police to brace itself to
play its enforcement role with utmost firmness and without fear or favour, taking a cue
from the experiences in the biometric voter registration exercise. For starters, the police
can and should intensify their efforts to bring perpetrators of voter registration offences to
book, regardless of their political affiliation or status in life. CODEO will continue to
monitor the progress of these and other cases to ensure that institutions of state discharge
their responsibility fairly and speedily


Registration of Prisoners: Lastly, CODEO calls on the EC to clarify the position on the
registration of prisoners so that it does not unduly delay the completion of the voter roll.
Thank you.
You may now want to discuss these issues or ask for clarifications.
CODEO Provisional Report on the BVR: Annex C
Opening and Closing of Centers
Visits by EC Monitors
Percent of checklists processed
Frequency of Reported Closure of Registration Centers
Closed before 6pm Closed at 6pm or beyond
Percent of checklists processed
Frequency of Reported visits by EC Monitors to Registration
Centers
EC Monitors Present EC Monitors Absent

CODEO PROVISIONAL REPORT ON THE BIOMETRIC VOTER REGISTRATION EXERCISE (BVR)
Appendix B
Update on Police Action taken on Violent Incidents recorded in Phase 1 and 2 of the BVR Exercise
S/N Type of Incident
/Venue, date and time
Brief Description of Incident Police Action Update Source of Update
1. Property Damage:
Ahenbronoum,
Tafo-Pankrono
Constituency, Ashanti
Region
April 3, 2012
A gang of ‘macho men’ allegedly assaulted
registration officials and destroyed a laptop
computer being used for the exercise. One of
the suspects attempted to dismantle the
registration kit.
The Police initially mounted a
search for the key suspect. The
District command has since referred
the case to the Ashanti Regional
Police Command.
Investigations into the case
are still ongoing
Ashanti Regional
Police Commander
DCOP Augustine
Gyenin
2. Arigu, West Mamprusi
District, Upper East
Region.
March 26, 2012
An alleged BVR-related conflict led to the
burning of 7 houses and irate residents of
Guborigu (also in Arigu) took
Hostage the NDC parliamentary aspirant for
the area.
The NDC parliamentary aspirant
was released after police and
military intervention. It is
understood that five suspects were
arrested
but later released
The case is near conclusion as
statements have been taken
from all the parties in the case
with the exception of the
NDC Parliamentary candidate
who have been unavailable
following Police invitations to
him to get his statement.
Upper East Regional
Commander DCOP
Bright Oduro
3. Physical Harm:
Ododododio
Constituency, Greater
Accra Region
April 11, 2012
Assault on Ms. Ursula Owusu, NPP
Parliamentary Aspirant for Ablekuma South by
‘matcho men’ at a registration center in the
Odododiodio Constituency.
Police to conduct investigations
following a complaint filed by
Ursula. Also the two parties have
pledged and resolved to work for
peace in the area at a meeting
organized by the police service.
Statements have been taken
from all the parties involved.
Outstanding are the witness
statements.
Ministries Police
Divisional
Commander Chief
Superintendent Jones
Oklu Gyamera.
4. Physical Harm: Sankore,
Dantano, Asunafo South
District, Brong Ahafo
region, On the weekend
of March 24 & 25, 2012
16 activists of The NPP were allegedly
assaulted at various times by a group led by
one Nii Lokko. The Group brutalized residents.
The NPP in the region have threatened to
defend themselves if the violence continues
Investigations into the case
are ongoing
Brong-Ahafo Regional
Commander DCOP
Robert Adibura
Ayalingo
5. Physical Harm: Sabieh
registration centre, Tain
Constituency, Brong
Ahafo region, April 10,
2012.
The NPP parliamentary candidate is alleged to
have been involved in a violent incident in the
area.
The Police detained Mr. Amanfo
together with 5 others. The six were
initially denied bail but were later
granted.
Investigations into the case
are ongoing
Brong-Ahafo Regional
Commander DCOP
Robert Adibura
Ayalingo