The Electoral Commission (EC) has insisted that it would go ahead to compile a new voters’ register despite the protest by some political parties and civil society organisations, saying the new register would be in the national interest.
According to the EC, the decision was not only based on preserving an independent body, but also, offered a sound and prudent management on the country’s financial resources.
Mrs Sylvia Annoh, acting Director of Public Affairs Department of the EC in an exclusive interview with the Ghanaian Times yesterday argued that the process of acquiring a new voter Management System, and a new voter’s register was the best way to go in the face of escalating cost of maintaining the current system which was also flawed with ghost names.
According to her, it has been estimated that a total replacement of the register in 2020 was going to cost Gh¢390,365,186.44 including hiring of officials and other materials.
The EC Public Affairs acting Director said, the cost of refurbishing the obsolete Biometric Voter Register (BVR) kits as proposed by the former vendor was going to cost US$ 5,145.00 per kit including taxes adding that the new kit was estimated to cost US$ 3,500.00 inclusive of taxes saying, “Upgrading the Biometric Verification Device (BVD) which costs US$ 244.00 to a new one, which would cost US$ 917.00.”
Stressing that, procuring an entirely new one with tax was estimated to cost US$ 400.
She said the EC spent close to GH¢ 2 million just to refurbish the BVDs and BVRs ahead of last year’s district level elections adding that the operating systems were obsolete so it would not have the necessary software and drivers to run the new devices on the server as some have argued.
Mrs Annoh noted that replacement of voters’ register had an antecedent which gave lifespan of the register for at least eight years period beginning from 1987 to 1988, when the EC replaced the voters register three times, 1995, 2004 and 2012 respectively.
“The 1987-1988 register was used for seven years, the 1992 register was replaced after nine years with the 2004 being replaced after eight years to pave way for the 2012, therefore there was the need to replace the 2012 after eight years which was this year,”she said.
She allayed the fears of IPRAN that the EC would not have the time to compile a credible voters register this year, especially being an election since in both 2004 and 2012 general elections, a new voters register was compiled before the elections.
Mrs Annoh said the current voters register was bloated because it has been very difficult to remove the names of the deceased from the register after it has been used for eight years saying, “There is no doubt that it is highly bloated.”
She assured the general public that it was important to note that whether EC compiled a new voter’s register or not, there would be the need to procure new kits to replace the obsolete ones, saying, “We will go in for less expensive, user friendly robust and modern ones.”
Mrs Annoh said the commission would also acquire a new robust state of the art data centre at a cost of US$ 6million instead of upgrading at a cost of US$ 15 million as proposed by the former vendor.
Since the announcement by the EC of its decision to compile a new voters’ register, political parties in the country have held press conferences to advance reasons for either objecting to the exercise or were in favour of a new register.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI