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24 July 2014

Biometric alone cannot address challenges of Ghana electoral system - Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has stated that the biometric technology alone cannot address the challenges of any electoral system.

According to him, machines could not undertake certain functions during election activities, such as the detection of minors and non-nationals in the registration of voters.

Sharing Ghana’s experience in biometric technology during elections at a conference in Accra yesterday, Dr Afari-Gyan told the participants that the EC had to employ other measures to prevent foreigners and minors from voting, adding that “the machine will not solve all our problems”.

The three-day conference, which brought together participants from other African countries, will discuss the sustainability of biometric technology in elections in Africa.

Breakdown of machines

Citing some instances of the breakdown of biometric machines during the registration of voters and elections in 2012, Dr Afari-Gyan said the biometric identification machine failed to identify voters whose names were in the voters register.

He said some of the machines broke down due to the volume of work, adding that the internal battery of the biometric kit ran out very fast “and the internal battery of the laptop could not support the process alone”.

“It is a multi-component kit and so if one device does not work, it affects the whole election process,” he said.

Challenges during exercise

During the piloting of the biometric voting and registration system, Dr Afari-Gyan said, some centres had challenges capturing the photographs of women in veil but the EC overcame the challenges through community education.

He said the software used during the 2012 elections made it difficult for officials to locate certain districts, a situation which wasted a lot of time.

Another challenge was the invasion of some polling centres by heavily built men, popularly called “machomen”, during the voters registration exercise.

“Some thugs took the law into their own hands and invaded some centres to disrupt the process,” he said.


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