The Director for Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Electoral Commission, Mr Isaac Kofi Asomaning, has stated that the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 75, Public Elections Regulations, 2012, has its implementation challenges.
He said what the Electoral Commission needed to do as a reputable and credible election-management body was to fine-tune or straighten the rough edges of the instrument to make it more adaptable to current demands.
Mr Asomaning was speaking at a public consultative forum on the Public Elections Regulations (CI 75) in Sunyani on the theme, “Deepening public confidence in Ghana’s elections”.
He noted that bringing on board the major stakeholders and other citizens could ensure efficiency.
He said the rationale behind the introduction of CI 75 was quite laudable and needed to be sustained, adding that the Electoral Commission had always sought to adopt strategies that would enhance its functionality.
He said in the organisation of an election, it was important that a level-playing field was created so as to guarantee the integrity of the election.
Mr Asomaning explained that public elections in the country were regulated by the constitution, legislative and the constitutional instruments, adding that the constitution set out the broad parameters, while the legislative or constitutional instruments dealt with the specifics.
He said until 2012, the CI 15 (Public Elections Regulations, 1996) had been the main legal document used in the conduct of all public elections.
However, he said, in 2012, a new legal document, CI 75 (Public Elections Regulations, 2012), was enacted to replace the CI 15.
The director said many essential sections of the C.I.15 were maintained in the new C.I.75 and that a close look at both documents would reveal this fact.
“Notable among parts or sections of the C.I.15 that were maintained include those that had to do with the appointment of returning officers, issuance of writs of election, notice of election, and nomination of candidates,” he said, adding that CI 15 had 49 sections as against 48 in the CI 75.
According to Mr Asomaning, serious technical and operational challenges are experienced with regards to the use of the biometric verification device (BVD).
He said some of the technical challenges had to do with some verification officials, as some could not follow basic instructions issued to them as to the operation of the equipment.
Also, he said one other technical problem that was experienced had to do with climatic conditions, where the equipment exposed to intense heat led to its malfunctioning.
He said there was too much pressure on the use of the BVD, especially in areas where there was a large number of voters. This also led to the malfunctioning of the equipment.
Mr Asomaning further explained that until the enactment of the CI 75, the process of identification was done by the production of one’s voter identity card and the name and picture on the register.
However, he said, under CI 75, the BVD became the only means for identification and verification of the authenticity of the voter through the scanning of the fingerprints of the voter or facial recognition, if the voter was a trauma case, and that was where the challenge was enormous.
He said another area which also posed a challenge to the implementation of the CI 75 was the section that dealt with special/early voting.
Mr Asomaning explained that the restriction placed on the category of persons eligible to vote in the special voting was not well received by some sections of the public.
“Another challenge encountered in the implementation of the CI 75 in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections had to do with proxy voting,” he said, adding that before the introduction of the BVD, a person appointed as a proxy may or could vote at two different polling stations, which is where he or she registered or where his or her proxy registered.
However, he said under CI 75, one must find someone who registered at the same polling station.