UNDP Indicts STL Over Voters Register

A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded report has indicted the Electoral Commission (EC) and Superlock Technology Ltd (STL) over the handling of the biometric voter register (BVR).

According to the report, the controversial Israeli company contracted by the EC to assist in the management of the biometric database used for the 2012 general elections still controls the sensitive data.

The EC’s database is still being hosted by STL, which sister company has suddenly been granted juicy government contracts.

EC IT Department
‘The management of biometric database has been outsourced to STL who was expected to train and fully hand over the system to the IT Department of the EC before the 2012 elections. STL   has not respected this component of the contract as at this assessment in August 2015,’ the report compiled by two researchers said.

The report, which the UNDP calls ‘An Institutional Assessment Report’, titled ‘Conduct of an Institutional Assessment and the Development, a Strategic Plan for the Electoral Commission of Ghana’, was compiled by Islam Yusufi and Theophilus Dowetin.

Conducted between July and August 2015, the report provides institutional assessment of the EC, looking at the commission in the execution of its mandate as the electoral management body of Ghana.

STL Not Transparent
According to the report, the EC had developed its capacity to conduct registration of voters using OMR until the introduction of biometric technology and said now that the EC has adopted the biometric platform, it cannot do without STL.

‘The implication is that the EC will be unable to conduct biometric registration without STL.  STL has not been transparent with the officials of the IT Department to enable the latter to understand how the system functions, even though STL officials are based in the IT Department of the EC,’ the report noted.

Bloated Register
According to the UNDP report, the voter register used for the 2012 elections ‘has been agreed to by all parties as bloated but while the opposition is requesting for a replacement, the party in government, NDC, is of the opinion that it is credible to be used in 2016.’

‘It will be in the interest of public peace if the EC is not perceived to be aligned to the NDC viewpoint. An audit of the register could help establish to verify or refute the allegation of the opposition political parties. An acceptable voter register is a necessary ingredient for a credible electoral outcome,’ it stressed.

The report pointed out, ‘The unacceptability of a voter register is one of the major sources of election conflict since it creates the basis for political parties to reject the outcome of an election.

‘Voter registration is conducted on a periodic basis and when it is expected to be continuous. A mechanism to enable political parties and CSOs to observe a continuous registration would contribute to building confidence in the process. Public education on registration, which is conducted usually between 2 to 3 days before registration, is considered inadequate,’ it added.

Institutional Collaboration
The report said that the EC and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) needed to collaborate effectively to ensure that voter education got down to the electorate.

‘The EC has not had joint public education planning and there is no existing formally agreed framework for the conduct of this interrelated constitutional mandate among the two organisations. The two institutions would need to work harder together to improve on the situation during the 2016 elections,’ the report noted.

The report further said that the EC ‘has not had the capacity to audit the financial statements of the political parties and also undertake any follow-up that may be needed to ensure that the law is adhered to by the various political parties.’

By William Yaw Owusu


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