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EC Quest for a New Voter Register Unconvincing and Flawed, NDC Posture Irresponsible and Amateurish

Plans by the Electoral Commission of Ghana to compile a completely new voter register for the 2020 and subsequent elections has received mixed reactions from individuals, political organizations and electoral observers from the length and breadth of the country.

According to the commission, the reasons for the compilation of the new register are among other things is to replace the outmoded biometric machines which are currently in use by the commission, reduce the current overstretched register, introduce modern electoral tools that are seamless and easy to use by electoral officials with limited problems. Other essential reasons the commission adduced for the compilation of the new voter register is the commission's ability to independently manage its data securely without the use of third-party vendors and using Ghana’s telecommunication companies as a backbone to transmit elections data and results securely without it being compromised.

The reasons for the compilation of a new voter register as enumerated by the electoral commission are great and necessary for enhancing our electoral credibility and effectiveness but not a justification for a compilation of a completely new voter register. The most important thing the commissions need to concern itself with is how it can procure the required modern equipment that can seamlessly integrate with data from the old register.

The solution to the ECs problem is to find the best data analyst and scientist who will be tasked with the responsibility of migrating data from the old register, into the new and modern electoral machines that electoral commission intends to procure. This method has been tried and tested in many modern democracies across the world. In the IT world, transferring data from one server to a new one is an everyday task and activity.

With the right data integration strategy, the EC can be able to keep and manage and update the current register by capturing security features on existing voters such as facial recognition, fingerprint details to ensure that all data at its disposal corresponds to each unique voter. This data update or upgrade can be done when the EC can properly procure the requisite tools, machines and specialist who can be able to enhance our current electoral register without necessary compiling a new one.

The Electoral Commission of Ghana has on numerous occasions said the current register is credible but bloated. The process of the data integration and upgrading can be done either through separate Individual electorate data verification exercise or it can be done during the conduct of the general elections. Voters who did not turn out for either verification over or voting a period can be considered ghost by the commission and their data deleted from the register. This process will be more efficient and cost-effective than using almost half a billion Ghana cedes to generate new voter data which are already at our disposal.

The decision of the EC to compulsorily compile a new register before the 2020 elections instead of considering other proposals and options makes other interested parties and a cross-section of the Ghanaian populace to doubt the good intentions of the electoral commission. The EC owe it a duty to explain to stakeholders beyond what we know as reasons for a new register, can the current data be upgraded and integrated into a new data system which can be compatible with new modern voter machines and equipment? If not, possible, the EC must explain why that cannot be done.

It is, however, reasonable for the largest opposition political party in Ghana NDC to protest and register its displeasure against the decision by the electoral commission with its plans for a new register. The EC has failed to convinced electoral stakeholders the reasons why it needs a new register so badly without considering other options like the one enumerated above in the article in finding solutions for the same problem. The posture of the NDC in communicating its grievances against the EC has also fallen short of what is expected of a political party in these modern times.

On Thursday, 21st May 2020, the general secretary of the National Democratic Congress Mr Johnson Aseidu Nketia was heard on Peace Fm making offensive chants against the EC if its goes ahead with the planned registration exercise. Such irresponsible remarks from the Chief Executive Officer of the largest opposition party in Ghana are not only condemnable but also amateurish. The position of the NDC is clear. It does not want the commission to compile a new voter register. Still, it has failed to adduce reasonable alternative proposals on how the commission can make the current registry less bloated, updated, upgraded and independently manage its data without third party interference.

The EC needs to abort its quest for a compilation of a new voter register and instead concentrate in making the current register more credible by updating and upgrading using modern machines and equipment that are compatible with our existing electronic voter data. The NDC and other civil society organizations that are not in support of a new register should also make it an effort to propose better alternative strategies that can be used by the EC to achieve their planned objectives without necessary embarking on a new voter compilation process. Who benefits when the voter register is clean, credible and reliable? It's time the NDC stop the name-calling and proactively engage the EC on its concerns.

Opinion :

Gabriel Mwini

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