– NPP Japan Branch to CSOs
The executives of the national and the entire membership of the NPP-Japan branch has waded into the ongoing voter register ‘’brouhaha’’ to voice out their opinion that, the country need a new register before the 2020 general elections. The quality of the voters’ register plays a critical role in the electoral process and an obsolete and incomplete register could not be relied on for an electoral process, which guaranteed the principle of one man to a vote. We believe that the current register has some short falls that must be corrected before the country goes to polls on the 7th of December 2020 and the best way to correct this is by getting a new voter register. The Electoral Commission has said the new voter registration is meant to ensure an appropriate and meaningful use of technology to safeguard the efficacy of the ballot count and the acceptance of results.
The EC has said it was planning to procure a new biometric voter management system (BVMS) and compile a new voter register since the current system is outdated and the procurement of the new BVMS and compiling of a new register will save the country GH₵173.07 million, compared to upgrading the current system.
The EC through their officials and IT experts have raised concern over the security of the electoral system as one of the key reasons a new voters’ register must be compiled. Some of the issues raised are that the commission does not own the source code of the current Voter Management Solutions (VMS), a situation which subjects the system to manipulation by third parties including vendors, thereby compromising the security and credibility of elections.
The Deputy EC Chairman in charge of Operations, Mr Samuel Tettey in his address to the media stated that the server, storage and networking hardware at the Data centres on which BVMS applications run on were all obsolete and have reach “end of life” and “end of support”. Their component parts now frequently breakdown and parts to repair them are unavailable because the manufacturer no longer produces them or supports them. The contractual agreements that were entered into with the vendor of the system prior to its acquisition in 2011 did not make provision for the commission to own the source code of the software solution. He said in a tensed political climate, where there was a total lack of trust among parties involved in the electoral process, biometrics cannot be an adequate enabler if it is not up-to-date and responsive. Its solutions must be complete and comprehensive to render the electoral process reliable, credible, transparent and trustworthy. He said the unavailability of source code had hindered the efforts of the EC to build an in-house capacity and to recruit skilled Information Technology (IT) professionals to man the system. He said it was highly unwise on their part to continue to run a solution they do not have control over and this will be a huge risk to the country and it is akin to the country giving our sovereignty to a vendor.
He has disclosed that the staff of the commission on the current solution were not trained per the contractual terms to enable the commission to take over the system after expiration of the contract, this has made the EC staff members not able to update or enhance the software solution.
He said the vendor of the system had since 2012 charged the EC a maintenance fee of $4 million per annum to also manage the data centre that needed to be updated at a cost of $15 million before the December elections. But today we are acquiring a new data centre at $6 million, exclusive of tax. He said the IT infrastructure, that supports this biometric voting management system must be modern, secure, reliable, robust and have the necessary performance features to meet tight electoral timetables and demanding service requirements.
We also make reference to Dr. Yaw Ofori Agyei, an IT Consultant, also hinted at a risk of data loss with the current system as there is no backup or data recovery plan. He also identified some operational issues with the system that included the application system designs that gave no insight into the quality of data being egested. He said that there were no checks and balances in the system to determine if some records were missing. The arguments raised by the EC pertaining to a new voter register is on the right course and as well-meaning Ghanaians living in the diaspora we are convinced that a new voter register is the way forward, therefore we are urging all Ghanaians to avail themselves and participate fully when the EC opens for the registration exercise which will take place between April and May 2020.
The excessive demonstrations from the CSO’s and the opposing political parties will not produce the needed solution to the issues raised, however, deliberation and putting practical knowledge together is the surest way to addressing this issue.
We believe that with all these explanations made by the EC and other IT experts should be able to convince the opposing parties and the CSO’s to rally their support behind the EC so that together we can have a credible voter register to go into the 2020 general elections.
We by this release employing all CSO’s and political parties against the creation of a new voter register to ignore the financial cost as being raised by them and look at how a credible register would help the country to strengthen its democracy and ensure that the processes and outcome of results from the 2020 general elections would be reliable, credible, transparent and trustworthy.
Jointly issued and signed by
Kwaku Adu – Acting Communications Director
Mr. Asiamah-Bosompem Mark – Branch Organizer
Mr. Constance Yeboah – Youth Organizer