We’ll procure new biometric voting system, compile voter’s register for 2020 – EC

The Electoral Commission (EC) has justified its decision to procure a new biometric voting system and compile a new voter’s register for this year’s general elections.

According to Samuel Tettey, Deputy Chairperson in Charge of Operations at the EC, the decision was informed by advice from its Information Technology (IT) personnel and external consultants that “it would be prudent to acquire a new system rather than refurbish the current system.”

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, he said it would make more economic and operational sense to acquire the new system than to keep the current system and refurbish them at a high cost of frequent replacement of failing parts and renewal of warranties.

“In the view of the experts, the cost of frequent replacement of failing parts and the renewal of warranties through third-parties was comparable to the acquisition of a brand new system with full service and warranties.

In effect the amount of money spent on refurbishing parts and renewing warranties could be used to acquire a brand new system that is robust, modern and durable, user friendly with full functionality and warranties,” he stated.

The equipment that the entire voter management system runs on, from enrollment, duplication, adjudication to voters’ verification, he said, was obsolete and no longer supported by their Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM).

He said reports from the immediate past vendors of the solution indicated that the Commission would assume so much risks if steps were not taken to change the equipment.

He noted that the current Biometric Verification Device (BVD) was unable to verify a number of voters electronically resulting in a high number of manual verification on voting day which has the tendency to compromise the integrity of the elections.

He said the total cost of maintaining the existing devices and buying additional ones to replace broken ones from the immediate past vendor was higher than acquiring newer equipment with better software and improved scanners.

For the District Assembly elections in December last year, he said the Commission spent about GH4 million for refurbishment of the BVDs and BVRs.

“The current solution does not have a facial recognition. Additionally, the current architecture of the system is such that a facial recognition add-on cannot be added. The new solution will have facial recognition as an additional feature for those whose fingers cannot be verified. This will remove the current rising trend of manual verification which tends to compromise the integrity and credibility of our elections,” he stated.

He said although the EC could buy a new server and storage equipment and run the existing applications on them, the operating systems were so obsolete and do not have the necessary software drivers to run the new devices on the server while the application code has not been tested on the new infrastructure to certify its compatibility.

Mr Tettey added that the reason for the periodic replacement of the voters register was mainly due to reforms aimed at improving the credibility and integrity of the register and incorporates new technology including adding facial recognition to completely eliminate manual verification.

“The current kits and solutions are obsolete.They are End-Of-Life (EOL) and can no longer be supported by their OEM.  The immediate past vendors of the solution, proposed that the Commission replaces all the equipment and also upgrade the Data Centre. This was rehashed by the consultants we engaged to audit our systems,” he added.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

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