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DI doubtful about start of biometric registration


DI doubtful about start of biometric registration

Per the timetable of the Electoral Commission, the compilation of a new voter register, using

biometric technology, should begin in October 2011 and end March 2012.

The timetable, which is available on the website of Danquah Institute, has set September 2012 as the latest date to produce a provisional voters register (PVR), exhibit the PVR and update it. The EC estimates that a total number of 13 million people may be registered for the 2012 general elections.

However, the Danquah Institute has expressed serious doubts about the timetable. The policy think tank points out that by the EC’s own timetable the contract negotiation, award and management of procurement of logistics should all have been completed before the end of last month.

“We fear that the delay could be as much as three months. Now, that would be fatal to the total national desire for a credible voters register, using biometric technology. We believe the EC needs all the help it can get to work to this tight timetable. This may include a lot of support from the media, civil society and political parties,” according to a release by the Danquah Institute.

“Public sensitization should have started in June. This month, by the programme of the EC, should see the contractor delivering material, training staff and getting on with on-site technical support between now and September. Yet, it was only on Monday, July 11 that the Electoral Commission started the process of technical evaluation and selecting from the seven shortlisted companies who tendered bids,” Asare Otchere-Darko, the Executive Director of Danquah Institute said.

With the opening of the bids last week, all the documented proposals submitted by the seven companies would be studied and further shortlisted before one of the lot will be selected. This process could take up to the end of July. This could mean at least one month delay in a process of compiling a new voter register that is scheduled to complete in the last quarter of 2012, election year.

“I think the EC should explain to us what has caused this apparent delay. Is it because Government delayed in releasing the ¢50.8 million budgeted for this year’s exercise or there are other technical reasons? We need to know,” Mr Otchere-Darko said.

The Danquah Institute has also urged the EC to come out “to reassure the public that it can, indeed, deliver a credible biometric voter register and early enough for the December 2012 general elections”.

The EC is expected to use 23,000 registration centres for this exercise, an increase of 2,000 on the number of polling stations in 2008.

Though the EC presented its GH¢80 million budget to Government last year, it was only in last week’s supplementary budget that Government releasedGH¢50m for the Commission to get on with the registration exercise.

That figure is considered to be adequate for this year’s exercise, the Danquah Institute, however, has been pushing the EC to make clear its confidence in working up to schedule.

The EC expects to complete the registration early enough to undertake any possible mop-up work and transmit the final data to the centre in Accra before the end of March 2012 for data centre activities to begin in April.

This will include, uploading of voters’ data from the district and regional hubs into the computer at the data centre and the all-important exercise of a centralised data cleaning exercise. It is at this stage that the biometric data (AFIS) captured will be analysed and any double or multiple registration deleted.

Per the timetable, the third quarter of 2012 will begin with the completion of de-duplication  and cleaning of the data collected. A new provisional voters register will be produced and exhibited. It may be updated to take care of newly eligible voters after the exercise before the cut off date.

“Will the EC be able to come up with a final voters register by October as expected? Indeed, even before this apparent delay, we were not comfortable with the orginal timetable, fearing that the October date was cutting it too close to Election Day,” said Mr Otchere-Darko.

Between April and June 2011, technical evaluation and shortlisting were done as scheduled for the initial 47 companies which put in bids. But, the final evaluation should also have been done, site validation test and approval by Public Procurement Board done and the contractor secured for sensitisation to have started.


Source: The Statesmanonline




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