COMPILING A NEW BIOMETRIC VOTER’S REGISTER AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
Ghana like many other countries has been greatly affected by the ongoing Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic which is not only fatal to human lives but also causing global economic recession. Since the nation recorded her first case, the President has taken the initiative of implementing the “whole of Ghana approach” by rallying the leadership of political parties, faith-based organizations, the military, academia, industry and all relevant stakeholders in an effort to deal with this pandemic. To achieve this “whole of Ghana approach” and support the President, we must quickly defuse any issue that is likely to intensify polarization and undermine efforts towards national cohesion, convergence and collaboration to deal with the pandemic.
Such matters must be tackled expeditiously with all the effort, goodwill, and resources at our disposal, and ought to be resolved in a manner that ensures mutual gratification. This requires that we tame all divisive tendencies in this critical election year in order to manage the crisis not only in a reactive form but in a proactive manner which confidently directs us towards national cohesion. One issue that continues to threaten national cohesion and peaceful elections is the controversy over the acquisition of the new Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS) for the December 7 2020 general election. Despite the surge in the number of recorded cases, the Electoral Commission (EC) has remained adamant not to renege on its decision amidst all caution. The EC at its last IPAC meeting held on 27th May officially confirmed that the general registration is scheduled from the last week of June to the last week of July.
This decision by the EC appears to inhibit the President’s effort towards national cohesion and threatens the “whole of Ghana” approach that has been adopted by the President to fight this pandemic. Already, some functionaries of the NDC have insinuated that the President’s decision to lift the lockdown is a ploy to allow the EC to compile the new BVR. On 26 April, 2020, some members of the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) besieged the City Escape Hotel where the EC was purportedly holding a national workshop on the new register in defiance of the court injunction. It took the intervention of the police to calm these aggrieved members. Furthermore, the Inter-Party Resistance against the New Voter Register (IPRAN) has threatened to disrupt the general registration exercise if the EC proceed with it.
In line with the ongoing discussion, this paper seeks to provide a detailed analysis of the EC’s decision to acquire a new BVMS during pandemic. We acknowledge that other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) like IMANI Africa have provided painstaking analysis on the decision to procure new equipment. Therefore, the focus of this paper is on the decision to compile a new BVR during this Covid-19 period.
Download full publication below.