Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ghana: Electoral Commission confident that biometric registration process is on track

With the December 2012 elections only several months away, the chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) emphasised last week at the “Election 2012: The EC's preparations so far” conference that the use of biometrics in the election process was on schedule to go ahead, and that biometric registration for the elections – to be conducted under the watchful eyes of representatives of the various parties and election officials – will start on 24 March and continue on four “phases” until completion on 5 May.

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan acknowledged that four phases, for different groups of polling stations, were needed because the 7,000 available registration kits fall well short of the 23,000 or more that are required to register voters across the country in a single phase.

In addition to providing some of the technical details, Dr. Afari-Gyan - noting one of the limitations of the registration process - stated that “it is only through vigilance that the registration of foreigners and minors could be prevented”. Another, more important limitation, is that some eligible voters may be unable to vote if they are away from their registered polling station on Election Day because of the current technical limitations.

Special measures are, however, being put in p[lace to support proxy voters and disabled citizens amongst others Given that the EC's budget is well over 240 million cedis (US$143 million), of which almost 150 million cedis US$89 million) or over 60 per cent is allocated for registration alone, any mishaps in the biometric registration process could be embarrassing. It will also damage the credibility of what are sure to be extremely close elections.

International observers have continued their support for the EC's activities and the biometric process itself, with the European Union providing seven million Euros to provide training and education – through the EC, Ghana's National Commission on Civic Education and the National Media Commission – on biometric registration. Lets hope that comments made last week by the EU Ambassador in Ghana, when revealing this Euro contribution, that Ghana is a “beacon of democracy” in Africa, do not prove to be wide of the mark.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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