General News of Friday, 27 January 2017
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has developed a mobile phone-based system of voting to check the high incidents of rejected ballots during polls.
The ‘Global System for Mobile Communication Balloting System’ is expected to an improvement on the current paper ballot system and also present a more efficient system to prevent multiple voting.
The innovation by the Kumasi-based university is contained in a 2015 Research Report. The new system hopes to ride on the current wide availability of broadband internet, smartphones and tablets to improve the country’s electoral system.
With the significant increase in mobile phone usage (some 116% of the population) the system will allow votes from electorates to be received by the Electoral Commission via text messages.
Only one vote is recorded even if a voter texts more than once. The system is pioneered by a team of researchers at the Department of Physics, led by Dr Reuben Yao Tamakloe, a Senior Lecturer at the University.
According to the report, the system “has the capability of significantly reducing the occurrence of invalid votes and multiple voting as well as enabling the immediate display of election results”.
The sheer number of spoilt ballots recorded during elections has become a source concern for the Electoral Commission and governance experts who say it affects the democratic process.
Although public education on spoilt ballots usually precedes elections, it has become a major feature of the electoral process.
Sometimes the percentage of spoilt ballots exceeds the percentage of votes some political parties have obtained in the electoral process.
In the just-ended election, rejected ballots accounted for 1.566% of total valid votes – beating the total votes garnered by the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), 1%; Convention People’s Party (CPP), 0.24%; People’s National Convention (PNC), 0.21%; National Democratic Party (NDP), 0.16 and Joseph Osei Yeboah, 0.15%.
In 1992, rejected ballots accounted for 3.6% of the valid votes cast, this figure reduced to 1.5% in 1996.
In the first round of the 2000 general election, rejected ballots accounted for 1.8% of the valid vote counts and reduced to 1.58 per cent during the presidential run-off.