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Election watcher releases report on Ghana’s biometric voter registration exercise

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The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) on Thursday released a provisional observation report on the maiden biometric voter registration exercise and commended the Electoral Commission (EC) for a good work done.

“Based on the (more than) 6,188 processed observation checklists out of the expected 6,200 submitted by our observers, representing almost 100 per cent of the expected data, CODEO reiterates, its broad satisfaction with the conduct of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise, notwithstanding the initial anxieties surrounding the fate of the exercise”.

Professor Mirinda Greenstreet, Co-Chair, CODEO who presented the report at a media briefing in Accra, commended particularly the EC, Ghana Police Service and Civil Society Organisations for their role in the entire registration process.

She said the Coalition however, noted some irregularities and challenges in the last two phases of the exercise in relation to the poor understanding and application of eligibility criteria for registration, particularly the criteria to residency, age, identification and procedures for guarantors and challenges.

Prof. Greenstreet said attention was paid to the conduct of the EC’s registration staff, supply and handling of equipment and materials, conduct of party representatives, role of the police and response of the public to the exercise.

The report raised concern about incidences such as inadequate supervision of electoral officials in the field, equipment malfunction and repair or replacement time, as well as challenges of the police in dealing with activities of so-called monitoring teams of political parties and other criminal elements.

Prof Greenstreet said notwithstanding the various challenges, there were significant improvement in addressing some of the challenges over the period of the last two phases of the registration exercise, citing the quick police action to check the movement of unauthorised people into specific registration centres, which went a long way in minimising the incidence of violent clashes between rival party activists.

She said CODEO was of the view that to prevent any national crisis during the pending polls in December, serious care must be taken to provide adequate protection of the verification equipment from the weather and provide back-ups and technician’s support.

The Coalition urging the EC to be thorough and diligent in implementing the next stages of compiling the voters register, recommended that any extension of the exercise to mop-up other eligible voters should consider students who were writing examinations during the period of registration.

She said the report recommended that work of the District Registration Review Committees (DRRC) be fully supported and observed by all stakeholders, particularly the media, while the EC dealt appropriately with all cases of multiple registration and challenges that were filed by voters during the exercise.

Prof. Greenstreet indicated that CODEO would continue with its observation of the process, particularly the work of the DRRC and exhibition of the provisional biometric voters’ register and would issue its final report on the entire exercise after the registration process had run its full course and the voters register had been certified by the EC.

CODEO is currently made up of 39 secular, religious and non-governmental organisations, which sought support from DFID to train and deploy 620 observers for the BVR under the supervision of 50 regional coordinators from March 24 to May five, covering a random sample of 620 polling stations in 100 districts in all 10 Regions of Ghana.

The approach used by the Coalition’s observers enabled them to obtain accurate and nationwide overview of how the BVR exercise has been implemented.

Source: GNA

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