The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has rubbished the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) decision not to compile a new voters’ register for this year’s elections.
After months of tug-of-war over whether or not there was the need for a new register for the 2016 general elections, the EC commissioned a five-member panel to investigate the issues raised by the NPP – that the existing register was flawed.
On New Year’s Eve, the EC announced that the panel found no merit in the NPP’s allegations and therefore rejected the call for a new electoral roll. That was what baffled the NPP.
At a press conference at its national headquarters yesterday, the party’s Campaign Manager for the 2016 general elections, Peter Mac Manu struggled to make sense of the EC’s decision, predictable as he said it was.
“The Commission is saying to Ghanaians that ‘yes, our register is among the worst in Africa; yes it is bloated; but, so long as we don’t have a proper national ID card in Ghana; so long as we don’t have proper records of the dead, we cannot prevent illegal names from getting onto the electoral roll,’” he stated.
That, for him, was interesting since the NPP used Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania in its analysis on this point.
“Interestingly, the EC limited its response to only Kenya and even added South Africa, which was not part of the NPP’s analysis,” he noted, adding, “We will want to know which reasons the EC provides for countries like Nigeria, which is only now rolling out a National ID system for its populace.”
He indicated, “Nigeria’s election management body was able to find an effective method of getting a more credible register without a national ID for its 2015 polls.”
According to Mr Mac Manu, the five members of the panel constituted by the EC themselves confirmed the fact that the existing voters’ register was bloated.
In their analyses, he said, the panel which included a renowned statistician, compared three key indicators – estimated voter population, registered voters and estimated deceased in voters’ register from 2010 to 2016 – and that in their findings, they revealed that the number of names on the voters’ register was unacceptably more than the total estimate of people eligible to register to vote in Ghana.
“The panel report, using data from both the EC and the Ghana Statistical Service, is of no doubt that both the 2012 register and the current updated register (2014) are bloated and flawed. It makes the case that even if Ghana was able to achieve the statistical improbability of a 100 percent registration of every eligible Ghanaian, the 2012 register should not have exceeded 13,650,237 names.”
This figure, according to him, was nearly 14 percent smaller than the voters’ list used in 2012 and did not take into account those who registered illegally using NHIS cards.
“Also, this was the register that the EC itself admits now that the AFIS software was not good enough to undertake any meaningful de-duplication in 2012,” he revealed.
Furthermore, Mr Mac Manu indicated that “the panel was also unconvinced, among others, on the suggestion that there is no perfect register and that all registers since 1992 have been bloated, as claimed by Dr. Wereko-Brobby. The panel observed that, if true, this rather strengthens the case for looking at the accuracy of the register.”
He therefore noted that “despite the EC’s strong claims publicly that the panel rejected the call for a new register and suggestions that the panel had okayed the current register, the panel found that the register was flawed and could not be the basis for any election this year or in the future and suggested various ways for rectifying the situation.”
The NPP described as desperate attempts by the EC to create credibility issues for the document used by the party without any basis or any attempt to be fair to logic, especially on the use of the Togolese voters’ register, a soft copy of which they presented to the elections body when it requested for it.
For them, “this is reminiscent of the theatrics of the EC exposed at the Supreme Court and shows that nothing much has changed at the EC since 2012; that they are desperate to aid the NDC in their propaganda and that after all, they still have a basic challenge with IT or understanding it.
“The fact is, whether the NPP found a million or a 1,000 Togolese on the register, the case was the same, that the register had been compromised and that there was the need for a new one. It was precisely because of this reasoning that the NPP did not ask for a cleaning of the 76,000 but asked for a compilation of a totally new register. It is as if the NPP had asked for a cleaning of the 76,000 that a case can be made for working for more names; but the evidence presented and the request made was totally not dependent on magnitude,” the party chief said.
According to the NPP, the decision to audit the existing register “shows how the EC is determined not to be transparent or fair …the EC, together with whoever the NPP does not know, hired a so-called consultant, failed to even disclose the name of this consultant, what his track record is and the nature of the work he had been tasked to do. The NPP like all political parties we know of were kept in the dark and the EC, which in this case could be the compromised party, hired someone, only for EC to turn around and ask that we take the word of this unknown consultant as it came.
“How is this possible? Why was the EC determined to hide the consultant and the work he or she did? Why did the EC not allow for observers from the Political Parties to work with and observe the work of the consultant so everyone could have accepted his or her report?”
The NPP therefore served notice to the EC that “we will have difficulties accepting the consultant’s work as constituting a credible, comprehensive, independent, competent and conclusive audit of Ghana’s biometric voters’ register.”
For them, “what will ordinarily suffice is an open, international tender for a credible NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology) -certified AFIS info-system auditing expert to undertake this important task and in the presence of technical agents of all the political parties. The EC had no reason to botch this one up, by rushing it behind the backs of stakeholders, if it were genuinely interested in doing a good job.”
By Charles Takyi-Boadu