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Opinions of Monday, 23 April 2012

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

The Biometric Voter's Registration is not Foolproof

- Beware Opposition political parties

The proponents of the Biometric Voter's registration for future Ghana elections had good intentions. By the proposed improved form of registration and voting, the proponents had in mind to achieve transparency, fairness and to guarantee every registered electorate or citizen the franchise of one-man one vote. The clarity of their intention cannot be overestimated. They sought to eschew the abuse of multiple registrations by same individual which behaviour is common in Ghana's voter registration exercises. Nevertheless, "good intentions alone cannot bring about the world peace"

I have conducted investigations into the biometric voter's registration of eligible voters in general, and in relation to Ghana in particular. I am not enthusiastic about the collated resultant information. I have consulted with a White colleague who is more knowledgeable in information technology than I do. He did the in-depth research on Biometric registration and Remote Electronic Voting and then passed on the report to me. I am not going to publish the details, as I am in negotiation with him to publish his findings himself on the Ghanaian electronic media.

I have again contacted a born-in-the-UK Ghanaian computer analyst. He also shed more light on the Biometric voter's registration exercise on a whole. He went further to relate, and interpret, his views, in terms of the inherent abuses and political immaturity of Ghanaian electorates. These two persons share the same alarming views that may mar the ongoing biometric registration exercise in Ghana if the opposition parties fail to ensure the Electoral Commission institute checks and balances immediately.

There is apparent indication that despite all the obvious characterisation of incompetence and corruptibility by the incumbent NDC government, she is more than desirous to retain power come December 7, 2012. The government therefore is disinterested in the exigencies of the biometric voter's registration.

The way computers communicate with each other is through PROTOCOLS. Simply put, these are rules for communicating between computers. Protocols govern format, timing, sequence and error control. Without these rules, the computers cannot make sense of incoming information. Protocol is like a computer's software, which resides in a computer's memory or the memory of a transmission device e.g. network card. These protocols enable all computers on the network to communicate effectively and in an efficient.

All the said seven thousand biometric machines currently in use in registering Ghanaians for the impending December 7, 2012 elections, like any other computers, must be well managed and synchronised to a database. Those managing the biometric machines must obligatorily programme them to register each eligible voter-registrant to a fingerprint, address, age and sex. Each machine should be able to block or instantly pick up any second, let alone multiple, registrations by same individual if the managers have networked the whole lot. Governments or companies use biometrics to identify people based on their biological traits. Fingerprints are unique to each individual of which there is not a second. Hence, a biometric hand-recognition device as presently in use in Ghana to register all future eligible voters accurately confirms ones identity.

I have been listening to interviews granted to Fm radio stations in Ghana by nominated Electoral Commission staffs or agents about unfolding incidents involving the biometric registration. I can deduce from their views and answers as expressed that the biometric machines were not at all synchronised. If they were, why was each registration ward required to copy information on registrants onto pen drive to take to Accra to the Electoral Commission to download onto a server? They were not copying the information onto the pen drives for backup support. They were taking them to the Electoral Commission for the very reason already assigned as explained above.

Those downloading the information contained on the pen drives onto the server have plenty room to alter, delete or do whatever they like with it.

A citizen found a missing wallet belonging to an alleged Jabir and took it to a radio station. It contained two biometric-issued registration photo cards of him. Each card bore his photo but in different names, age and address. Furthermore, the police have arrested one Emmanuel Archibald Laryea in Accra for possessing 15 biometric voter identity cards. Each card bears his photo but in different names and address. An operator of a biometric machine picked him up when he was attempting to register for the 16th time. For more news on Laryea I advise you to visit Ghanaweb.com archives on General News of Friday, 20 April 2012 captioned, "Man arrested for registering 15 times"

Were all the 7,000 biometric machines synchronised and the machines tested for operational efficiency prior to dispatching them to the electoral wards, there would not be instances of successful multiple registrations. These two are just the tip of the iceberg of the ongoing gargantuan but yet to discover malpractices involved with the registration.

I will come back to tell you more about irregularities alleged to be taking place or likely to take place. I will first wait for the computer/software analysts I have consulted to publish their expert's views before I chip in with my suggestions.

Rockson Adofo