Prof Miranda Greenstreet

The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to extend the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise.

The organization said high incidence of equipment breakdown and suspension of registration in some areas justified an extension of the exercise in those areas.

CODEO emphasized that any extension should also consider students who were writing exams during the period of registration.

Speaking at a media briefing on the observation of the just-ended biometric voter registration exercise, Prof. Miranda Greenstreet, Co-Chair, CODEO, urged the EC to be thorough and diligent in implementing the stages of compiling the voters register.

She said the work of the District Registration Review Committee should be fully supported and observed by all stakeholders, particularly with all cases of multiple registration and challenges that were filed by voters during the exercise.

Prof. Greenstreet proposed that the various agencies that had a critical role to play in the speedy disposal of these cases, notably the EC, Police and the Judiciary, set up taskforces to deal with them.

In addition, she said, the incidence of minors registering and irregularities recorded by CODEO should prompt the EC to screen the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) system for suspected cases for further investigation.

In respect of this issue, Prof Greenstreet said CODEO enjoined the EC to be as transparent as possible by sharing with the public its procedures for determining cases that would be passed on to the police and which ones would not, and to inform the public when it had completed the nationwide fingerprint matching.

She entreated the police to brace themselves to play their enforcement role with utmost firmness and without fear or favor, taking a cue from the experiences in the biometric voter registration exercise.

Prof. Greenstreet said police should start by intensifying their efforts to bring perpetrators of voter registration offences to book, regardless of their political affiliation or status in life.

She said CODEO would continue to monitor the progress of these and other cases to ensure that institutions of state discharged their responsibility fairly and speedily.

Touching on some specific findings of CODEO during the registration exercise, she said the organization recorded 106 incidents of kit malfunctioning.

Prof. Greenstreet said these problems caused delays and those registrants who could not bear the long wait left the registration centers.

At other times, she said, prospective registrants decided not to return to register because of the uncertainty regarding the reopening of the centers where the process was suspended as a result of malfunctioning equipment.

Prof. Greenstreet said the data processed so far indicated that visits of EC monitors to the registration centers were quite infrequent.

She said about 61% of the checklists processed showed that no EC monitors visited registration centers, adding that only about a third of the checklists (33%) indicated the presence of EC monitors over the period of the exercise.

By Cephas Larbi

View the original article here

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