WELL RESOURCED

EC READIES TO ROLL

… 2012 Elections to be held before Dec 7

EFG Prez Ajoa Yeboa Afari, going through biometric registration, with Kabral Blay-Amihere, Ransford Tetteh in queue
EFG Prez Ajoa Yeboa Afari, going through biometric registration, with Kabral Blay-Amihere, Ransford Tetteh in queue

By J. Ato Kobbie, Managing Editor [The Business Analyst]

The 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Ghana, could take place anytime after September this year, if Parliament amends the existing law, to stem the kind of crush transitional programme as happened during the 2008 elections.

Disclosing this to The Business Analyst on the sidelines of a presentation by the Electoral Commission, hosted by the Editors Forum, Ghana (EFG), the Chairman of the EC, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan said such an exercise would require only three days of the law makers’ time, as that aspect of the law is not an entrenched one.

The event, which was held under the theme: “Election 2012: The EC’s Preparations So Far”, also afforded the EC the opportunity to demonstrate to the EFG the process of the biometric registration, which saw some members being taken through the exercise.

Dr. Afari-Gyan disclosed that the total budget estimate for the biometric registration and the presidential and parliamentary elections amount to GH¢243,528,305, comprising GH¢148,942,378 towards the biometric voter’s registration, GH¢ 7,477,966 for the exhibition of the register and GH¢ 87, 107,961 for the presidential and parliamentary election, excluding a run-off.

Of the total amount, he said GH¢ 134,726,083 (a little over 50%) has so far been released in a timely manner, made up of a seed money of GH¢ 50,000,000 in July 2011, GH¢ 37,396,911 in November 2011 and GH¢ 47,329,172 for which reason equipments and other materials have been delivered on schedule.

Dr. Afari-Gyan was optimistic that his outfit would receive the remaining funds in regular phases within time, stressing that except for South Africa’s EC, which always has its entire budgetary allocation lodged into its account, there is nowhere on the continent where bulk amount is released, when it is not needed.

Dr. Afari-Gyan disclosed that the EC had procured 7,000 biometric machines for the registration of Ghanaians from March 24, 2012 to May 5, 2012, with one urban and one rural area in each of the 10 regions of the country set to undergo a pilot registration.

He cautioned however, that vigilance was required of all to prevent multiple registrations.

Biometric technology, he explained, was the use of a computer network to identify people by means of their unique features such as eyes, fingerprints etc.

He indicated however, that no matter how sophisticated these machines are, they cannot, for instance, tell the difference between a Ghanaian and a foreigner; the difference between the fingerprints of an adult and that of a child, hence, the importance of the human element to maintain vigilance.

“A successful biometric registration means a person’s name occur only once and at a specific polling station and that an applicant can vote only once in his or her own name,” Dr. Afari-Gyan asserted.

He said issues that remained outstanding included what to do in the event of some biometric machines failing to work, or  special voting for persons such as those living abroad (students on scholarship and embassy staff), and prisoners, who would also be registered under the new system as well as proxy voting.

He discounted suggestions that the EC’s system was inferior, saying people who have been arguing that way are wrongfully using forensic biometric standards to compare what is purely for civil biometric registration.

Dr. Afari-Gyan explained that the system is suitable for mass registration and has been tested for over 30 years, dispelling rumours that it caused cancer or HIV/AIDS.

He explained that the country has been zoned into four areas, with 10 days assigned to each, thereby bringing the total registration period to 40 days.

The Chairman of the National Media Commission (NMC), Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere, who chaired the event, praised the EC for its reputation and even-handedness in organizing elections.

Praising the media’s role in bringing the country’s democracy thus far, he called on them “not to fail Ghana in this make or break elections.”

The President of EFG, Ms Ajoa Yeboa Afari, was grateful to the EC for accepting to partner the forum of editors, in order to be best positioned to educate the members of the public.

Leading members of the forum present were taken through a demonstration of the biometric registration, which involved, in addition to data that was taken in previous elections, the capturing of impressions of all ten fingerprints into the database and the digital capture of a person’s photograph. [email protected]

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