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17 October 2013

Pratt and Ephson urge ‘go slow’ on e-voting calls.

Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr. and his counterpart and Pollster at the Daily Dispatch newspaper,  Mr. Ben Ephson Jnr. have cautioned against any haste to subscribe to electronic voting system for national elections in Ghana.

They say inherent challenges with e-voting and deployment cost means it cannot be employed for the 2016 general elections as is being pushed for by the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP).
The PPP says adopting the electronic voting system for 2016 will help deal with chanllenges encountered in the 2012 general elections.
Speaking separately to the issue on Radio Gold on Thursday, the two men said while they would not dismiss the call, extreme caution should attend any desire to adopt the system, with Mr. Ephson opting rather for a gradual deployment beginning with selected constituencies in 2020 and proceeding thereafter to cover the entire nation.

“But for 2016, No!” he said.

For Pratt who said he had previously been a poll observer in Venezuela, a country which uses an e-voting system with some of the most voter-friendly features and anti-fraud and tempering technologies, talks of e-voting reducing costs in the Ghanaian system cannot be entirely true.

E-voting, he said, also incorporates manual voting (reviews) that serves as a controlling mechanism against tallies to be printed at the end of polls by the e-voting system.

“The issues are not as simple as they are being presented this morning. First of all there is the element of cost. E-voting cannot be less expensive than manual voting because in all cases where e-voting is done, manual voting is done in addition and in fact, in systems where e-voting is used, when they do the auditing of votes, they use the manual voting to check whether or not there have been errors in the e-voting process. So it is important that we understand what e-voting is about.”

“You recall that in the Venezuelan election, the opposition was not too happy with the result and so on, because the opposition maintained that electronic voting could be rigged…”

Pratt said the opposition insisted on a recount on suspicion that something was amiss, however back in Ghana people are making all manner of claims on e-voting when they don’t even understand what it entails.

He maintained that the initial cost for e-voting is massive, and in the case of using e-voting for elections it is not a matter of choosing one or the other but that e-voting is supposed to enhance manual voting. They go together.
Pratt pointed out that the adoption of an e-voting system would not guarantee a litigation-free election.
According to him, e-voting will not eliminate the problems encountered in the December 2012 Election because there will be challenges with computers, batteries and other equipment that will be used to facilitate the process.
“I’m not opposed to e-voting. All I’m saying is that if we are going to do e-voting, we need to prepare adequately. The level of voter education needs to be high.  And we need to do a pilot first before we move on otherwise the kind of disputes we had in the last election will even be multiplied if we have e-voting,” he said.
Pratt said while the PPP’s call for an e-voting system ought to be examined and considered, it should not be hurried.

Source : DailyGraphic


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