The Managing Editor of the Daily Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jr., has described as “useless", the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voter register eleven months to the December elections.
Mr Pratt claims the electoral body is in a confused state, adding that the EC will throw the country into chaos if the decision to compile a new voter roll is not shelved.
Mr Pratt indicated that the appointees of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who, are in charge of the electoral body, are answerable to Ghanaians and cannot go against the will of the people, threatening that they would be removed.
Addressing a public forum on the new voter register in Accra on Thursday, 9 January 2020, Mr Pratt said: “I want to submit here and now that 10 months is not a sufficient period for compiling a new voter register, and if you attempt to do it, it will throw the next elections into total chaos. From the point of view of common sense, we should shelve this useless adventure of compiling a new voter register. They say the EC is an independent body, what does that mean? nothing is more nonsensical than that claim… The EC has partial independence and not absolute independence.
“Of course, if you know the people who are doing these things, sometimes no sense can sound like sense. These are the same people who go to fake prophets and fake bishops who are telling them that magic is the act of the possible, who are telling us that the act of impossible is possible, so, they are confused, they are totally confused”, he stated.
EC’s Justification for a New Register
The EC believes the integrity of the 2020 polls could be undermined if a new roll and a new Biometric Voter Management System are not put in place.
In a statement, the EC said: “The current kits and solutions are obsolete: They are End-Of-Life (EOL) and can no longer be supported by their Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). The immediate past vendors of the solution proposed that the Commission replace all the equipment and also upgrade the Data Centre. This was rehashed by the Consultants we engaged to audit our systems.
“It is important to emphasise that whether we compile a new voters’ register or not, there is the need to acquire new equipment to replace the obsolete kits acquired in 2011. It is therefore important to delink the procurement of equipment and kits from the registration exercise. We state again that whether or not the EC compiles a new register or conducts a limited registration exercise, we will procure new kits to replace the obsolete ones. Additionally, we will acquire a new data centre with robust state-of-the-art servicers and equipment at the cost of 6 Million Dollars instead of upgrading the existing one at the cost of 15 million United States Dollars as proposed by the previous vendors.
“Again, we are replacing the existing software with a new one to enable us own and control our systems unlike the previous situation where the solution was owned, controlled and managed by the vendors.
“There is no doubt that the voter register is bloated. The bloat is because we have not developed an effective way of cleaning the register. The bloated register increases the cost of our elections. The Commission always procures election materials based on the number of registered voters. This causes a lot of waste as the number of registered voters exceeds the actual voters.
“Considering the above challenges, the Commission has come to the conclusion that it will be cheaper and prudent to acquire new BVRs and BVDs which are robust and user friendly than to upgrade old and obsolete ones. Again, the Commission will go ahead with the preparation of a new biometric voters’ register based on the reasons provided earlier”.