76,000 foreigners found on Ghana’s voters’ register

8856829698301_6213560680393The opposition New Patriotic Party is ratcheting up pressure on the Electoral Commission to compile a new voters’ register.

Presenting what the party calls the smoking gun, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, vice presidential nominee of the NPP, said tens of thousands of foreigners have found on the country’s electoral roll.

This, he said was discovered by an investigative team put together by the party to unravel the mystery behind the unusually high and statistically questionable voter population of 14 million, representing 56 percent of the total population.

Dr. Bawumia said, the team set out to compare Ghana’s voters’ register with neighbouring countries and the results were startlingly alarming.

With copies of the Togolese voters’ register and that of Ghana, the team used biometric facial recognition technology and found potential matches of 76,000 names on both registers.

These voters used the same names, have the same facial and other features on the voters’ registers of both countries, he asserted.

“This is just a sample; it is quite a lot as you will see; and it is quite amazing, it is quite amazing,” he told a partisan crowd at a press conference Tuesday.

He said it particularly alarming that this figure of more than 76,000 potential foreigners were found on the register after scanning less than 10% of register.

That is not the only thing worrying the NPP; Dr Bawumia said a large number of these names were captured using stale photographs.

This he found strange because during the biometric registration process, voters were expected to have their photographs taken during the registration and yet the NPP’s team, he claimed, found out that the images of some voters were photographs taken of photographs.

These were pictures clipped to documents and shot for purposes of registration. “Most of the pictures were scanned pictures into the register, if you take a digital picture, you cannot staple it but clearly most of the pictures were stapled,” he argued.

Dr. Bawumia is even more concerned that the growth in voter population in some constituencies in the country defy logic.

Under a subheading, “Unusual Increases in registration between 2008 and 2012,” the economist said, “the available data also shows unusual increases in the voters register in several constituencies between 2008 and 2012.”

He said that an increase in the voters’ register between two elections of a magnitude above 10-15% is high and an increase of the voters register by 25% between two elections is abnormally high.

He argued there were instances where increase was simply insanely difficult to explain.

“One cannot credibly explain for example how increases in the voters’ register of magnitudes exceeding 40% can take place. Where did the people come from?” he produced a table representing “examples of constituencies with unusually high increases in the voters register between 2008 and 2012.”

“What is interesting about the data,” he observed, “is that quite a large number of the constituencies with unusual increases in the voters’ register are those that border neighboring countries. Take the Western region for example, where notwithstanding the oil find, Sekondi and Takoradi saw a 5%  decrease in registered voters while Suaman and Nzema East saw increases in the voters register by 23% and 27.7% respectively.”

The former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, said there is overwhelming evidence that the voters’ register is not credible at all and cannot be relied on for next year’s poll.

“Even though our investigations are on-going, we are presenting our initial results because time is of the essence in this matter of a new electoral register. The EC, as we speak, is in the process of taking a decision on the issue and we have to make an input into this process at the earliest opportunity,” he stated.

He outlined a number of recommendations he said the elections governing body must implement to enhance confidence in the electoral process.

Dr. Bawumia said the EC must compile a new voters’ register which “should result in the issue of Permanent Voter Cards with biometric information embedded in the cards as was the case in Nigeria recently.”

“The new register that is compiled should be independently audited by an internationally reputable firm before the 2016 election; Copies of the new voters’ register should be provided to political parties in both the electronic (csv file) and (pdf file) formats; the new register should be sorted alphabetically by last name and gender; it should clearly delineate voters registered overseas by country and basis for registration (e.g., mission, scholarship, etc); Statistical data supporting the new voters register (i.e. total number of votes, split by gender, polling stations, electoral area, constituency, region and country) should be provided to political parties; the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations 2012, C.I.72 be amended to ensure that political parties receive copies of the final register of voters based on which the EC will be conducting the General Elections at least ninety (90) days before the conduct of the elections and finally, resource the National Identification Authority to create a register of all inhabitants of the land. This register will serve as the singular reference for all Government offices and programs, like NHIS, Free Education, Youth Employment, Passports, Driver’s Licenses, Tax collection etc which in itself creates a disincentive to provide false information,” he said.

Principal Pubic Relations Officer of the EC, Sylvia Annor, confirmed the EC has received a petition from the NPP.

She, however, said she couldn’t speak to the specific demands of the party until after the Commission assesses the evidence presented by the NPP.

source: myjoyonline.com