The EC and the biometric vote
The 2012 general elections are 20 months away. But the mode of the vote itself remains mired in controversy. When Parliament okayed the biometric vote recently, the impression was that Ghana would go electronic at the next vote. Now, it looks like the Electoral Commission, the constitutional body in charge of effecting the vote, is beginning to drag its feet.
On Saturday, the Ghanaian Times captured the Public Affairs Director of the Commission virtually pouring cold water on the biometric voting system. Mr. Christian Owusu-Pare is quoted by the state-run newspaper, as stating in a radio interview, that the people of Ghana might not be ready for the innovation in the 2012 vote.
The Public Affairs Director is said to have indicated that the Commission would employ biometric processes for the registration of voters, and resort to the old fashioned thumb-printing on ballot papers for the actual voting.
According to The Ghanaian Times, Mr. Owusu-Pare believes the people of Ghana would need to be educated on biometric voting before it could be adopted by the state of Ghana. The Chronicle is getting confusing signals about the whole exercise.
We are inviting the Electoral Commission to be specific on the issue. With less than two years to the vote, Ghanaians ought to be clear in their minds about what system would be on offer. In making this demand, we recall with a tinge of sadness, the confusion that enveloped the 2010 District Assembly elections reducing the exercise to a farce.
The people of this nation do not deserve a re-run of last December’s vote that took two months to conduct, with a catastrophic outcome. The Electoral Commission should make up its mind early, and mount public education campaigns to avoid the spoilt ballot syndrome, which accounted for hundreds of thousands of people’s choices being declared not valid.
The 2012 vote is crucial. It has the potential to ignite the country and create problems for everybody, if not properly handled. That is why we are concerned about the confusing signals from the Electoral Commission. We agree with the commission that the people of Ghana ought to be educated on the biometric vote. It is not easy to introduce any innovation. That is why public education is of paramount importance in the introduction of the new voting system. We are of the view, though, that getting the people prepared ought not to take infinity.
That is why we are urging the Electoral Commission to get the budget for the exercise ready for submission. In making this demand on the Commission, we are informed by the late approval of the budget for the vote, which invariably, led to the confusion surrounding the exercise.
We have come a long way with our democratisation exercise. Let us do everything possible to improve on it.
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