The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has released its Preliminary Report on the just-ended nationwide Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise conducted by the Electoral Commission (EC).
The report covers Phases 4, 5, and 6 and the two-day mop-up exercise carried out at the various district offices of the EC.
According to the Report, CODEO Observers who monitored the exercise in 100 selected constituencies observed one registration center in each of the last three phases of the exercise, making a total of 300 registration centers observed in those phases of the exercise. Below are highlights of preliminary findings from the observation.
Summary of the Main Findings however revealed that, Accredited political party agents, particularly from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) were present in nearly all (99%) centers observed.
It also noted that Stationed security personnel were present at a majority of the centers but absent in a significant number of centers and BVR kits functioned generally well except in a few instances where at some point in time in the course of the exercise, there were some challenges with the devices; unresponsive devices, camera and logging-in challenges, and difficulties with the fingerprint scanners.
The observers also noted challenges with fingerprint scanners and that there were still challenges with adherence to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols at some registration centers.
“For example, in 21% of cases, social distancing was not strictly enforced. At a few registration centers (2.6%), some people attempted to physically prevent some registration applicants from registering instead of using a ‘Challenge Form’. There were also a few reports about abuse of the ‘challenge’ provision as some political party agents of the NPP and the NDC engaged in what seemed to be arbitrary challenge of persons they suspected of belonging to the other political party. This for instance happened during the mop-up exercise at the district office of the EC in Jomoro in the Western Region,” it said.
The Report also mentioned that Unauthorised persons were found “at 16% of cases observed. At the M/A J.H.S New Tafo registration center in Abuakwa North in the Eastern Region for example, unauthorised persons prevented some applicants from registering on the basis of non-residence. Observers reported of acts of intimidation and violence by some persons at a few centers (1%). For instance, on August 2, 2020 at the Funeral Grounds registration center, Akanyakrom in Banda in the Bono Region, a group of men entered the registration center and assaulted some registration applicants in the queue, resulting in a temporary suspension of the registration exercise.”
“At the 12 Apostles Church Kormantse registration center in Mfantseman in the Central Region, a man on July 23, 2020 slapped a party agent who had advised him to use the ‘Challenge’ procedure instead of attempting to physically prevent an applicant from registering. On August 8, 2020, during the mop-up exercise at the EC office in Takoradi, an unauthorized person who was trying to interfere with the registration exercise but was driven away by stationed police officers subsequently called in a group of stoutly-built men who claimed to be national security operatives. The group arrived in two pick-up vehicles obviously to confront the police officers who had left the center before their arrival. Shortages of registration materials were recorded in less than 1% of observed cases.”
In 18% of cases, there were persons stationed around registration centers available to guarantee for registration applicants whilst, on the last days of each of the three phases, Phases 4, 5, and 6, observers noted that about 2% of observed centers had people who wanted to register after the 6PM closing time. Mop-Up Exercise CODEO observers reported that the mop-up exercise was generally smooth across the various offices of the EC where they observed.
“While some registration centers recorded very low turnout, others had some voters who could not register at the time registration was closing on Sunday, August 9, 2020. In a few instances, registration forms had been filled for applicants in queue but their biometric details and photographs could not be captured. At the Ajumako-Enyan-District office of the Commission in the Central Region for instance, there were about 50 persons in queue at the time the registration ended. In Suame in the Ashanti Region, about 20 persons whose registration forms had been filled could not complete the registration processes because the exercise was ending. At Ayawaso West Wuogon in the Greater Accra Region, about 17 applicants also had their forms filled but could not go through the rest of the registration processes to complete their registration.”
CODEO observers also reported a few cases where some political party activists and hooligans either physically prevented or attempted to physically prevent some registration applicants from accessing registration centers during the mop-up exercise simply because they claimed they did not know the applicants.
Such incidents, they noted, were reported from the Jomoro constituency in the Western Region, Wa East in Upper West, Nkoranza South in Bono East and Ayawaso West Wuogon in the Greater Accra region.
Meanwhile, CODEO commended the EC and the general public for the generally smooth mass registration exercise over the past six weeks and condemned all acts of intimidation, harassment and use of violence which took place during the exercise.
“CODEO calls on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Ghana Police Service working with the Attorney General (AG) to act expeditiously to complete all investigations including the violent incidents in Banda which resulted in the death of one young man, as well as the incident in Awutu Senya East in the Central Region and in Dormaa West in the Bono region. Persons found culpable in various criminal breaches of the law should be prosecuted and sanctioned in accordance with the laws of Ghana.”
CODEO urged the Police administration to share updates of these investigations with the Ghanaian public to foster confidence in the security agencies and also server as deterrent against future incidents of this nature. Failure to enforce the rule of law will erode confidence in the security agencies and the rule of law and called on the EC to re-open registration in specific areas where people who had made themselves available for registration could not do so.