New Register is recipe for Chaos – EC boss

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Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) on Friday said compiling a new voters’ register across the 30,000 polling stations could be recipe for chaos.

She said given the entrenched positions adopted by the two main political parties – the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) attempting to undertake registration for an entirely new electoral roll may have serious security problems.

Speaking at the second day of debate organised to seek for public opinion on the proposal, the EC Chairperson noted that the social context of politics cannot be ignored.

The NPP believes the electoral roll used for the 2012 general election is so “incurably flawed” it cannot be used for the 2016 elections, however the NDC disagrees.

The NDC insists the NPP’s claims the register is bloated are unfounded and must be rejected.

Mrs Osei said the EC has received an avalanche of complaints from the NPP, which would be addressed in due cause.

She said the EC desires to have a credible voters’ register and would work with the political parties and civil society organisations to get one.

A fundamental question, she said, however remains; do Ghanaians want a credible register?

“If the people and the stakeholders do not want a credible register, we won’t have one,” she stressed.

She said minors who find their names on the electoral roll must together with their parents be sanctioned.

“If we sanction a few minors and their parents, it will deter others from engaging the electoral offence,” she said.

There is nothing like a perfect voters’ register

Mrs Osei said although all registration system attempts to be perfect, it is a worldwide knowledge that there is nothing like a perfect registration system.

She noted that although the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) which is currently used by Ghana and other countries has an accuracy level of 99.98 per cent it is still not 100 per cent perfect.

According to her, although the biometric registration is good, it could in no way determine or confirm the ages of people who register as it has not been programmed for that.

Mrs Osei noted that so far, 158,584 names have been expunged from the voter’s register due to double registration and urged community members to collaborate with the EC reporting underage people who register.

She cited comparison with other biometric data in Ghana such as the National Identification Card (ID), National Health Insurance Authority ID and school registration details as some of the measures by which the EC could deploy to expunge the names of suspected under -aged people from the register.

Mrs Osei again urged community members and party agents to endeavour to expose foreigners who go to register as the BVR has not again been programmed to determine who might and who might not be a foreigner.

She noted that although the biometric is good, it could still record multiple registration due to low quality of fingerprint, and voters who registers with less than five fingers.

She said there is cooperation with neigbouring countries ‘s ECs, sharing of biometric data and comparing biometric data of persons who register in more than one country as some of the measures which could help Ghana gain a clean data.

She said for Ghana to have a new voters’ register, factors such as a new legislation to support it, could delay the process.

There would also be the procurement of logistics, training of staff who would undertake the exercise, data processing and most importantly cost.

 

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