More than 23,000 pieces of equipment are being procured by the Electoral Commission (EC) for the verification of voting during the December general election, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Chairman of the EC, has said.
One verification equipment will be given to each of the more than 22,000 polling stations, while an extra equipment will be provided for each of the 230 constituencies to cater for any possible breakdown of the equipment on voting day.
The procurement of the equipment is expected to cost the nation about $30 million.
At a roundtable discussion on, “Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) and Verification System in West Africa: Nigeria’s Experience and Ghana’s Perspective”, in Accra yesterday, Dr Afari-Gyan said it was now certain that the EC would conduct a verification system for voting in the 2012 elections.
The roundtable, the second in the Election 2012 series, brought together the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria, Prof Attahiru Muhammadu Jega; the Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) West Africa, Nigeria, Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Mr Kwesi Jonah, to discuss the BVR, its verification and implication on elections and democracy.
The event was organised by IDEG, in collaboration with the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI).
Dr Afari-Gyan said now that it was settled that the country would have a verification system for voting after the conclusion of the BVR, what was now at stake was what to do when the verification equipment broke down on voting day.
“We have to agree with the political parties on exactly what is to be done in the event of a breakdown of the verification equipment,” he said.
In his characteristic practical way, he emphasised that even with the biometric registration and verification, Ghanaians also needed to be vigilant.
Sharing some lessons learnt from the pilot registration that ended over the weekend, Dr Afari-Gyan said the system was deliberately tested to investigate how double registration would play out.
He said double registration was immediately identified and anyone who registered and attempted to do so the second time would immediately be identified by the equipment.
He also gave some innovations with the BVR voting, including a daily print-out of a polling station’s list of registered voters.
He also said that with the biometric registration process, voters would be assigned to specific polling stations for the voting day, saying that was to help in the logistical planning for voting day.
For his part, Professor Jega suggested the use of the youth who were technologically savvy in the development of software for the BVR exercise.
He said five young Nigerians had developed the software used for the BVR in Nigeria from open source and free of charge.
He said relying on local capacity in the development of software eliminated the heavy licences and fees charged by international copyrighted software and also put to use the capacity and skill of the youth in Africa.
Prof Jega also advised Ghanaians and the EC to determine their needs, decide on how to meet them and stay focused and not allow themselves to be distracted by others.
He recounted how some donor partners had kicked against Nigeria’s decision to use a local resource in the BVR, with excuse that the use of local resource was not possible.
He said the EC, in the execution of the BVR, needed to always be ahead of politicians who always sought ways to manipulate systems, such as the BVR.
Dr Jibrin, for his part, said the face of elections currently was the movement to technologically enabled and easier voter registration and voting exercises.
He said the BVR also enabled a more credible and permanent list of voters which could be updated when a person turned 18.
He also declared that civil society organisations and citizens needed to protect the mandate in the electoral process.
Mr Jonah said vigilance from all was important.
He also emphasised the need for all to register, saying the BVR would give a cleaner and leaner register.
“We all have a shared responsibility. When we go to sleep, we must ensure one eye is opened,” he advised.
Source Graphic Ghana