General News Thu, 9 Jan 2020

Error-riddled voter register not fit for purpose; new one needed – Akpaloo to EC

The founder and leader of the Independent People's Party (IPP), Kofi Akpaloo, has asked the Electoral Commission (EC) to go ahead with the compilation of a new electoral register for the 2020 general elections.

He said the current roll is fraught with deficiencies and must, therefore, be discarded for an entirely new one.

Mr Akpaloo told GBC in an interview on Wednesday, 8 January 2020 that: “The EC should go on and compile a new voter register”, adding: “We believe that the current one is full of errors and not fit for this year’s elections.”

Parliament has approved a budget for the EC to go ahead to compile a new register ahead of the December polls.

The EC believes the integrity of the 2020 polls could be undermined if a new roll and a new Biometric Voter Management System are not put in place.

In a statement, the EC said: “The current kits and solutions are obsolete: They are End-Of-Life (EOL) and can no longer be supported by their Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). The immediate past vendors of the solution proposed that the Commission replace all the equipment and also upgrade the Data Centre. This was rehashed by the Consultants we engaged to audit our systems

“It is important to emphasise that whether we compile a new voters’ register or not, there is the need to acquire new equipment to replace the obsolete kits acquired in 2011. It is therefore important to delink the procurement of equipment and kits from the registration exercise. We state again that whether or not the EC compiles a new register or conducts a limited registration exercise, we will procure new kits to replace the obsolete ones. Additionally, we will acquire a new data centre with robust state-of-the-art servicers and equipment at the cost of 6 Million Dollars instead of upgrading the existing one at the cost of 15 million United States Dollars as proposed by the previous vendors.

“Again, we are replacing the existing software with a new one to enable us own and control our systems unlike the previous situation where the solution was owned, controlled and managed by the vendors.

“There is no doubt that the voter register is bloated. The bloat is because we have not developed an effective way of cleaning the register. The bloated register increases the cost of our elections. The Commission always procures election materials based on the number of registered voters. This causes a lot of waste as the number of registered voters exceeds the actual voters.

“Considering the above challenges, the Commission has come to the conclusion that it will be cheaper and prudent to acquire new BVRs and BVDs which are robust and user friendly than to upgrade old and obsolete ones. Again, the Commission will go ahead with the preparation of a new biometric voters’ register based on the reasons provided earlier”.

However, the decision is facing opposition from some political parties and groups.

A group of opposition parties calling themselves the Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register has threatened to embark on demonstrations starting 11 January 2019 against what they term the wastage of scarce national resources for the compilation of a new voter register by the Electoral Commission.

Addressing the press in Accra on Monday, 6 January 2019, the founder and leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr Hassan Ayariga, described the EC's decision as a waste of resources and an act of bad faith, as the opposition parties rejected the idea of a new roll during their Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meetings.

Mr Ayariga, however, said the reasons given by the EC are “bizarre.”

“As if that is not enough, the process to procure and compile this needless register has been shrouded in secrecy and characterised by deception, lack of transparency and disingenuity,” Mr Ayariga stated.

He stressed that the Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register will pour onto the streets in the coming days to register their displeasure.
Source: classfmonline.com
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