A civil society organization, the Mass Action Committee (MAC) has stated that the need for a new biometric voters register is no longer an option, but an urgent necessity.
The civil society organization, which is made up of people from different walks of national life including academia, entrepreneurs, political and social activists, traders, farmers among others, asserts that the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voter register is both appropriate and timely.
The organization, which has been in existence since 2013 explained that, its support for the EC “is guided by technical viability concerns of the present Biometric Voter Management System and financial considerations.”
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, spokesperson for the group, Atik Mohammed, outlined several reasons why the country needs a new voters’ register ahead of the 2020 election.
He said the current system used by the EC is beleaguered with many challenges thus the need for the change.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Biometric Verification Registration (BVR) Kits were procured in 2011 and have been in use since then. The last time the EC purchased these kits was in 2013. This implies that, the BVRs are technically nine years old. They have therefore become obsolete,” he said.
He further said there are other non-technical issues that justify the need for a new register and that it is beyond dispute stating that there are still NHIS cardholders on the electoral register.
“This implies that, the audit of 2015 could not clean the register of these illegal names. The presence of these names on the electoral roll call into question the reliability of the register. And our best shot at eliminating these people from the register is by doing a new register,” he added.
According to the group, it is also a fact that, ridding the electoral register of dead people is an uphill task explaining that, “by compiling a new register, we are afforded an opportunity to reduce the number of ghosts on our register to the barest minimum at least for the 2020 general election whiles exploring the possibility of closer cooperation with the births and deaths registry in future.”
The Mass Action Committee debunked the assertion in some quarters that compiling a new register will be a drain on the economy.
“One of the arguments that has been vociferously articulated by those opposed to the production of a new register is that, the process will be costly. The fact is that, the reverse is true. Compared to the quotations that the previous EC agreed to on 28th June, 2018 from the last vendor, procurement of new equipment will result in savings of $18,364,500.00 equivalent to GHS 104,677,650.00,” the spokesperson of the group clarified.
The group also seized the opportunity to dispel the misleading notion that, the final register will be ready only by 8th November, 2020.
“This deliberate falsity is simply intended to court public anger and to paint a picture of ill-preparedness towards the planned 18th April registration exercise.”
Based on the arguments advanced, the group said, it is clear that for the country to have a reliable and sustainable electoral register, there is the urgent need for a new electoral roll. “We must all endeavour to go out in our numbers and register so that, we can exercise our franchise when the time comes.”