Opinion: EC’s manual verification for voting, sure road to rigging

Jean Mensa, EC chairperson of Ghana

With less than three months to the crucial general elections, the Electoral Commission’s mistakes and failings are of grave concern to all Ghanaians. Besides the mysterious missing of names from the register, there is a boil swelling in our armpits which will surely explode if it is not opened now. It is the unnecessary manual verification provision made by the EC.

According to the EC, verification officers can opt to verify people manually if their fingers cannot be verified or facial recognition fail. This option left to the discretion of the verification officer is dangerous because it can be highly abused.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled that no voter can be denied the right to vote, it is for the credibility of the voters register that we decided to compile a biometric register. This means a citizen’s biometric details are captured and verified before he or she votes. In this respect the Electoral Commission told us it was adding facial recognition to the biometric requirements so that should the fingers fail to verify, the face definitely cannot fail by the one to one matching system. This system simply means manual verification should not be an option because it is not biometric.

Strangely, during the voters register exhibition, the EC did not deploy the biometric verification devices at all the polling stations but rather engaged in manual verification of voters on the register. This indicates an intention to carry out manual verification on voting day irrespective of the BVDs availability since the discretion is given to the verification officers.

Knowing our penchant for electoral irregularities especially at a time we witnessed how this EC conducted a by-election at Ayawaso West Wuogon last year, Ghanaians must be afraid of this manual verification method. It is going to open the floodgates for multiple voting, permitting unqualified people to cast ballots and render the whole exercise of biometric verification nonsense.

We must be consistent in our approach to sanitizing our electoral system. Finger and facial verification are very adequate for the purpose. There is no need for resorting to a manual system. It is only by biometric verification that people who already voted can be detected especially when the ruling party is being speculated to have procured fake indelible inks which can be erased easily which would be sent to their strongholds. There will be confusion at the polling centres because the authority to grant manual verification will be contestable. Any beneficiary of this mode is likely to face unnecessary challenge from party agents who suspect foul play.

Since the EC assured us that it was the need for a complete biometric system that necessitated the compilation of the new voters register, the use of manual verification will defeat any argument for the compilation. It will justify the critics’ argument that the country threw away over GHc150million on a needless new register. We will be justified in concluding that the EC is deliberately manipulating the system to favour the ruling New Patriotic Party. Care must be taken; concerned voices must speak now; the move is ominous; we cannot guarantee peace in Ghana with this anomalies prevailing.

Manual verification must not be used. The finger is enough for verification of a voter. In the absence of the finger, the face of the voter cannot fail unless the EC wants us to believe it bought devices not fit for purpose. NO TO MANUAL VERIFICATION!

By Cyril Duodu & Attractive Mustapha, opinions do not represent the views of Daily Mail GH

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