Politics of 2014-03-26

Parties reject Afari Gjan's proposal for verifying future voters

Some political parties have rejected the Electoral Commission’s proposal for mode of verification of prospective voters who are unable to prove their identity.

The amended constitutional provision voter regulations [CI 72] allows for two registered voters to guarantee for the identity of any person who cannot prove an identity, to be registered as a potential voter.

Addressing members of the media and interest groups in Accra on Tuesday, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan proposed for possible adoption the provision on voting day. So that in the case a registered voter fails to go through mandatory biometric verification, two registered voters could guarantee for such persons.

He said two individuals from the communities where the polling stations are cited, could be selected to vouch for such persons to avoid the situation where many registered voters were turned away in the 2012 elections because, the biometric verification device did not recognise them at voting centres.

"We know that a lot of people were turned away on Election Day [December 7, 2012] even though they had gone through part of the process to the last bit where the biometric verification devise will not recognise [them]... "I'm [therefore] suggesting that a similar provision could be used at the [polling] station to be used to allow people who had gone that far in the process to be able to vote".

But the New Patriotic Party, National Democratic Congress and the Progressive People's Party are opposed to this proposal. They say such a process will have a negative influence on the outcome of the elections.

Former NPP Chairman, Peter Mac Manu who represented his party said allowing such a proposal can create the situation of multiple voting, if people are allowed to vote without any biometric verification.

"...the biometrics are unique to each individual so if you don't have it [biometric verification] you cannot vote. It's a very simple thing". General Secretary of the governing NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia insisted that voting should not take place where there is no verification.

"This attestation can open a gate for people to negatively influence the outcome of the election. Once we are adopting this technology we don't want any human factor that will tamper with the result of that technology".

PPP’s National Secretary, Kofi Asamoah says allowing people to vote without biometric verification will mean belittling the security measures put in place to ensure a transparent voting exercise.

"We have moved away from the old way of doing things...and the reason was to prevent multiple voting and impersonation. So if we begin to water down the security measures we have put in place then we are defeating the purpose for introducing the biometric verification exercise. So we should maintain that".

But the PNC’s Bernard Mornah shares in the opinion of the EC Chairman affirming that, turning voters away at the polling station because the BV device could not confirm their identification, amounted to violation of their constitutional right to exercise their franchise.

"It's still biometric verification and this time it's also facial verification because people around will be able to attest that it is the same person [but] the only unfortunate thing is that the verification machine at the time of voting is unable to recognise the finger prints".