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General News of Friday, 7 December 2012

Source: myjoyonline.com

Resist temptation to change voting rules - Yoni Kulendi cautions EC

Constitutional lawyer Yoni Kulendi is cautioning the Electoral Commission not to succumb to pressure from people who are suggesting that voters be allowed to cast their ballot even if the biometric verification machine is unable to identify them.

Many voters could not exercise their franchise on Friday because biometric verification machines broke down at some polling stations while others failed to identify a considerable number of voters.

This agitated affected voters who feared they could be disenfranchised through no fault of theirs.

President Mahama earlier said it would be unfair for people to be disenfranchised because they cannot be identified by the machine.

But Mr Kulendi who described that suggestion as dangerous, warned that allowing people to vote while all parties have agreed there will be no voting if the verification machine fails could jeopardize the electoral process.

He urged the EC to resist any “temptation to change the rules of the game.”

Mr Kulendi noted that in the circumstance, “the clever thing to do is to stick to the rules that the parties have agreed to before the match began”.

“They [the political parties] all agreed, they considered issues of breakdown, they considered issues of malfunctioning of the system, ultimately, they agreed NVNV (No Verification No Vote). Simple and short.

“I will consider it most unfortunate if the EC at this stage, 11th hour, departs from this rules it laid down and agreed with the party,” he maintained.

The Constitutional lawyer added: “Electoral systems are not perfect, constitutional rights are subject to requirements of due process…so if for some reason the biometric could not be verified, too bad for you”.

“We can take these challenges going forward and improve the system but we should not for Christ’s sake jeopardize the gains we have made today by attempting now to introduce clear confusion in the middle of the match.”

“It will be most unfortunate, it could be dangerous and it will undermine the integrity of the electoral process”.

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