A United Nations Devel­opment Programme (UNDP)-funded report has indicted the Electoral Commission (EC) and Superlock Technology Ltd (STL) over the handling of the biometric voter register (BVR).

According to the report, the controversial Israeli com­pany contracted by the EC to assist in the management of the biometric database used for the 2012 general elections still controls the sensitive data.

"The management of biometric database has been outsourced to STL who was expected to train and fully hand over the system to the IT Department of the EC before the 2012 elections. STL has not respected this component of the contract as at this assessment in August 2015," the report compiled by two researchers said.

The report, which the UNDP calls 'An Institutional Assessment Report', titled "Conduct of an Institutional Assessment and the Devel­opment a Strategic Plan for the Electoral Commission of Ghana", was compiled by Islam Yusufi and Theophilus Dowetin.

The report was conducted between July and August 2015 and provides institutional assess­ment of the EC, looking at the commission in the execu­tion of its mandate as the electoral management body of Ghana.

STL Not Transparent

According to the report, the EC had developed its capacity to conduct registra­tion of voters using OMR until the introduction of bio­metric technology and said now that the EC has adopted the biometric platform, it cannot do without STL.

"The implication is that the EC will be unable to con­duct biometric registration without STL. STL has not been transparent with the officials of the IT Depart­ment to enable the latter to understand how the system functions, even though STL officials are based in the IT Department of the EC" the report noted.

Bloated Register

According to the UNDP report, the voter register used for the 2012 elections "has been agreed to by all parties as bloated but while the opposition is requesting for a replacement, the party in government NDC is of the opinion that it is credible to be used in 2016."

"It will be in the interest of public peace if the EC is not perceived to be aligned to the NDC viewpoint. An audit of the register could help establish to verify or refute the allegation of the opposition political parties. An acceptable voter register is a necessary ingredient for a credible electoral out­come," it stressed.

The report pointed out 'The unacceptability of a voter register is one of the major sources of election conflict since it creates the basis for political parties to reject the outcome of an elec­tion.

"Voter registration is conducted on a periodic basis and vyhen it is expected to be continuous. A mecha­nism to enable political par­ties and CSOs to observe a continuous registration would contribute to building confidence in the process. Public education on registra­tion, which is conducted usually between 2 to 3 days before registration, is consid­ered inadequate," it added.

Institutional Collaboration

The report said that the EC and the National Com­mission on Civic Education (NCCE) needed to collabo­rate effectively to ensure that voter education got down to the electorate.

'The EC has not had joint public education plan­ning and there is no existing formally agreed framework for the conduct of this inter­related constitutional man­date among the two organisations. The two institutions would need to work harder together to improve on the situation during the 2016 elections," the report noted.

The report further said that the EC "has not had the capacity to audit the finan­cial statements of the politi­cal parties and also under­take any follow-up that may be needed to ensure that the law is adhered to by the various political par­ties."




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