The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has asked the Electoral Commission to urgently begin a process to prevent possible widespread malfunctioning of biometric machines during the December polls.
CODEO says its observations during the just ended voter verification exercise have informed the warning.
The Coalition revealed in a statement that about 6% of biometric machines failed at of exhibition centers during the verification exercise, predicting that the figure is likely to increase during the crucial elections.
“Where the equipment functioned properly, some registered voters who showed up at some centers (8%) could not be verified biometrically,” the statement said.
CODEO is the largest independent and non-partisan domestic election observation coalition in Ghana, comprising a network of civil society groups as well as religious and professional bodies.
According to CODEO, the fact that the equipment malfunctioned during the verification exercise raises concerns because the machines failed even when the process was without the pressure that characterise general elections in the country.
The statement signed by its National Coordinator, Albert Arhin, recommended that the EC outlines steps to tackle the issue on December 7.
“The Electoral Commission should, as a matter of necessity, identify all malfunctioning equipment and ascertain the reasons for the malfunctioning to help address possible equipment failure on Election Day. The Electoral Commission should clearly identify, outline and or publicize the modalities for dealing with the potential cases of biometric verification failures to reduce possible tension associated with turning eligible voters away on Election Day because of verification failures,” the statement said.
Other recommendations by CODEO include:
1. The Electoral Commission should undertake an accessibility audit of all polling stations to be used in the December 7 polls and take steps to address challenges associated with siting of polling stations to help improve accessibility to persons with disabilities and the elderly, among others.
2. The Electoral Commission should improve its sidelines to, and training of, temporary officials regarding accreditation and access to exhibition centers/polling stations to avoid situations where duly accredited observers are turned away by such officials.
3. The EC should also ensure that its officials stick to guidelines and regulations governing the conduct of such exercises, in particular time for opening and closing of centers.
4. CODEO reiterates its call on the EC and the NCCE to deepen collaborative efforts in support of civic and voter education.
5. Finally, political parties must recognize the role of exhibition exercises and the responsibility they have in ensuring a credible voter register, and improve their particpation in future exhibition exercises.
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