Dr. Kwodwo Afari Djan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission has call for stakeholders support for the work of the National Identification Authority and not for it to be bastardised.
He said an efficient National identification system would ensure data rationalisation and eliminate problems associated with the authentication of the true identities of individuals.
‘If the NIA becomes efficient, its systems will even take precedent over E.C; it’s very important to encourage the NIA to do its work and do it well’. Dr Afari-Gyan stated in an interaction with participants at a day’s Consultative Forum on Public Elections Regulations (CI 75) in Ho.
The E.C boss said the Birth and Death registry and the NIA should endeavour to register and issue national identity numbers to newly born babies in health facilities as in the case of Singapore and other advanced countries.
This he said when properly executed will help the E.C to identify and authenticate the true ages of persons during voter registration exercises.
‘Clash of law and Human Right’
On the implementation of the Constitutional Instrument (C.I) 75, during the 2012 general elections, Participants called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to take a critically look at the ‘no verification no vote’ rule that was used in the conduct of the last elections to ensure that no eligible voter was disenfranchised.
They were of the view that since the constitution and even the CI 75 upheld that every Ghanaian above the age of 18 who satisfied the provisions of the constitutions was eligible to vote, the issue of denying a person to vote, just on the basis of the Biometric Verification Device (BVD) failing to identify that fellows finger print is unconstitutional.
An Assistant State Attorney from the Attorney-General’s department in Ho, Mr. Moses Asanpoa also said the affected voters should have gone to court, to fight for their rights.
‘Seeing the anguish and trauma in which people left the polling stations in the last election, just because a machine cannot identity them was very disheartening; and the earlier the law is modified, the better for us all’ opined Mr. Kwesi Aboagye, NDC Volta regional chairman.
According to the participants, the biometric verification system was a process, so once a voter had gone through all the procedure and passed, the failure for the same machine to pick his or her fingerprint should not be the basis to deny one the right to vote.
The E.C chairman, Dr. Afari-Djan corroborated the views of the participants and said the ‘no verification, no vote’ rule was a situation that various international observers including the Commonwealth observers also expressed serious concerns about.
He described the issue as a ‘clash of law and human right’, which the EC was ready to modify once the public and stakeholders critically examine and come to consensus on it.
Election Petition Judgement
On the outcome of the election petition, Dr. Kwodjo Afari-Djan disclosed that there are good things that are coming out of the court action, stating that ‘things are going to be different’.
He said the commission would undertake administrative reforms to improve on the electoral system, which according to him seem over 42 different changes since 1992.
He noted some of the administrative measures as the training of election officials for a longer period and the reduction of polling station sizes as well as provision of two BVD at every polling station.
Dr. Afari Djan also provision which mandates presiding officers and polling agents to sign election results would be amended to prescribe punitive action against offenders.
The consultative forum was organized by the EC in conjunction with KAB Governance Consult in Ho as part of nationwide exercise to collate views from stakeholders and the general public on the CI 75 document used to conduct the 2012 elections in a bid to review challenges encountered for smooth subsequent elections.