18 CSOs reject EC’s plan for new voters’ register

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A coalition of major Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and key individuals under the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) have collectively rejected the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters’ register ahead of this year’s general elections.

The coalition, numbering about eighteen (18) CSOs are the latest to join several groups to criticize the EC’s plan to introduce a new voter management system for the upcoming elections.

The members of the coalition include the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), IMANI Africa, SEND Ghana, Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), Financial Accountability and Transparency, Africa (FAT-Africa), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and Youth Bridge Foundation.

The others are the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Citizens Movement against Corruption (CMaC), Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Parliamentary Network Africa (PNA), Community Focus Foundation Ghana (CFF-Ghana), PACKS-Africa and the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC).

At a press conference in Accra on Thursday, the coalition stated that after considering the technical issues raised by the EC with their experts, they found the EC’s submissions to be defective.
“This is a controversy over plain facts and values which can be resolved by a transparent and sincere evaluation of the data and the evidence, most of it relates to Information Technology over which the EC as a body has no inherent expertise, but which IT Experts can understand and agree on. We (and our IT Experts) have thoroughly examined the Electoral Commission’s submissions and found them quite defective,” the statement said.
The coalition also indicated that should there be any need for a new register which include the collection of fresh data on citizens, the more appropriate, most lawful and financially responsible and justified approach must be to let the National Identification Authority (NIA) as the compiling agency for data on citizens.

The coalition further challenged EC’s figures for a refurbishment of the existing BVD and BVR tablets. The EC has stated that STL has offered BVRs for $ 5145 brand new or $ 3500 refurbished, and BVDs for $ 917 brand new and $ 244 refurbished. But the coalition argued that their checks from other vendors on the market show that the average cost of a BVD is $160 while the average BVR tablet is $750.

They advised the EC to canvass the market for the cost of this equipment and look out for the possibility of an open-source central software application, as other countries like Nigeria has done in recent years. They noted that the high quotation provided by the EC is because they are relying on a single vendor, STL which currently manages Ghana’s electoral data.

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