Politics of Thursday, 14 June 2012

Source: GNA

476 prisoners registered during Biometric Voters Registration - EC

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Electoral Commissioner, on Thursday said out of the country's prison population of 13,231, only 476 registered as voters.

He said the two-day mop-up registration exercise at 186 centres within the eight regions of the country, after the major national registration exercise, recorded 16,487 additional voters.

Dr. Afari-Gyan, was speaking at a forum on the theme: "The Key Challenges of Election 2012 and the Electoral Commission's Strategies for Addressing these Challenges," in Accra.

It was organized by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to strengthen confidence in the electoral system, promote fair media coverage of the electoral process and help enhance transparency and credibility of Election 2012.

"We are in the region of 13,000,000 plus in terms of those who have registered, but this must be regarded as a provisional figure for a number of reasons."

The Electoral Commissioner explained that some Ghanaians currently abroad were eligible but are yet to be registered, such as security personnel on peace-keeping duties, and people who had their registrations challenged.

He said a person on the provisional voters register could still be objected to, during the exhibition of the register and the name taken off if the objection was upheld.

"So you see that a number of things still should be done before the final number of persons on the voters register can be given," Dr Afari-Gyan added.

On the electoral process, Dr. Afari-Gyan said the combined effect of the biometric voter registration and the biometric verification of the voter at the point of balloting was two-fold.

He said while there would be no multiple registration and duplicate names in the voters register, no one could use another person's name to vote because it would be impossible to use another person's finger prints to identify one's self.

"Given these two factors, the only way for cheating to take place in the voting proces would be through the collusion of election officials," said the Electoral Commissioner.

Dr. Afari-Gyan pointed out that if party agents were genuine and vigilant, the result of the combined effect of biometric voter registration and biometric voter verification would be trustworthy election results.

He said unlike during the voter registration period where one registration kit serviced four polling stations, each polling station would have its own verification machine at election time.

“As to what would happen in the event of a verification machine breaking down, the alternate procedure to be used in identifying voters would be determined in consultation with political parties."

The Electoral Commissioner said there was estimated to be more than 23,000 polling stations, adding that more than 23,000 people would be trained to handle verification machines on the day of election.

"The EC is keenly mindful that training some 23,000 persons to use verification machine properly, poses a real challenge. The Commission would ensure that training is handled on and on last days," he said.

Dr. Afari-Gyan noted that the widespread campaign for peaceful elections currently taking place in the country indicated that Ghanaians had foreseen some of the tendencies that could constitute sources of external challenges to the success of Election 2012.

He said general condemnation for these tendencies and pre-emptive initiatives adopted by civil society organisations and religious groups against them in recent times, suggested that Ghanaians were beginning to take ownership of their electoral system.

"Ghanaians are in effect saying to politicians in the face, we will not tolerate certain forms of behaviour in partisan politics," said Dr. Afari-Gyan.

He said this hopefully sent a cue to politicians, to embark on decent campaign, focusing on issues that would improve upon the lot of the people.**