Biometric Frustration

People in queues waiting for their turn to register.

The sky is getting dark and cloudy, it’s about 5:30 pm. The cloudy sky is exhibiting signs of rain and everybody is rushing home. Returning from school, I get off a trotro right in front of the estate where I live. Two middle-age women and a child furiously walk past me and I see the foiling on their faces. Walking two steps behind them, I infer from their conversation that they have been disappointed by officials in charge of a biometric registration center close to my house.

The biometric registration is just a few days old and there have been reports of technical and human drawbacks at the various centers thereby making it frustrating for people who join long queues to get themselves registered so that they can exercise their Universal Adult Suffrage come December elections.

Monitoring the progress of the first ever biometric voter’s registration from the media trailer, reports from all the regions identify challenges from technical to misunderstanding and even at some instances fights vent between officials from the Electoral Commission (EC) and residents.

Vincent Amenuveve, a Graphic reporter in Tamale says at the Bishop Roman Catholic JHS centers “A and B,” “There were technical challenges and a misunderstanding between residents and the electoral officials… that situation compelled Mr. Issifu Baba, the officer in charge to call for police reinforcement to forestall any violence.” Many of such situations have occurred in almost all the 10 regions and their various registration centers.

I think the EC should be blamed for all the frustration that people are going through. In the first place, education on the registration was very short and poor in terms of time and publicity respectively. The Electoral Commission should have publicized and educated people about 6 months before the exercise. With that, they would have had answers to limit hitches occurring now.

The EC should have made sure all the printers and computers were in good shape for the exercise, or they could have even bought new computers purposely for exercises like this. This could have at least made the registration a little faster. It is about time people acclimatized themselves to the conditions they are experiencing from the registration if these old and faulty equipment are not changed.

I stand to be corrected but information says electoral officials were taken through only theoretical training sessions. How do you expect them to know how to fix a faulty printer and operate computers that have been programmed for a special exercise like this?

How does the EC want people react when they sacrifice their daily activities to join queues for hours and later be told that the computers or printers are no working? They have no option but to be bitter and act violent.

It has also been reported that some party stalwarts of the NPP and the NDC have taken the registration so personal like it’s their private venture. For example it was in the news that an NDC man has shot a girl at one of the registration centers in Kumasi. Whether it is true or not, we would urge the Electoral Commission to take full control of the exercise and warn the political parties not to interfere with the registration exercise. Sometimes, their violent outbursts dissuade from going to the centers.

This is the first ever biometric voter’s registration in Ghana and these challenges were bound to be experienced. It is therefore my hope that every Ghanaian registers, and also such challenges would be negligible in subsequent years.

I guess the two middle age women I met earlier would indignantly thank the Electoral Commission for their Biometric Frustration.

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