September 29, 2020
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Why is NDC proposing data synchronization with NIA after rigging accusation – EC

The Electoral Commission (EC) says that it is “interesting” that the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which accused it of being in bed with the National Identification Authority (NIA) to rig the 2020 election, would “today turn around and propose data synchronization which would require the EC to work directly with the NIA and rely extensively on its biometric data in its database.”

In an official response to the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu’s suggestion that the EC didn’t understand data synchronization because the Commission had indicated during its Tuesday meeting with Members of Parliament that it was not going to rely on the biometric data of citizens captured by the NIA, the EC said Mr Iddrisu “has not read the CI 126” well.

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To the EC, if Mr Iddrisu had read it, “it would have been obvious to him that the Commission was not seeking to synchronize its data with that of the NIA.”

According to the EC, it has not stated anywhere that “it intends to use the biometric data in NIA’s database.”

Therefore, the Minority Leader’s suggestion that the EC didn’t understand data synchronization because the Commission had indicated during the meeting that it was not going to rely on the biometric data of citizens captured by the NIA was a misrepresentation of the issues.

“Indeed, the recently passed CI to guide the registration of voters, CI 126, does not include provisions to allow for the use of the biometric data of the NIA.”

“What the CI states and which is what the Commission is seeking to do is to rely on the physical NIA card to prove a person’s citizenship as a precondition for registration.”

“Indeed, had the Minority Leader read the CI 126, it would have been obvious to him that the Commission was not seeking to synchronize its data with that of the NIA.”

“For the record, merely presenting one’s card to prove one’s citizenship does not require a direct relationship or collusion with the NIA as the Minority has sought to portray,” the EC stated in its response statement signed and issued by the Acting Director of Public Affairs, Mrs Sylvia Annoh on Thursday.

The opposition NDC had accused the EC and the NIA of devising means to deny about 11 million Ghanaians the chance to vote in the upcoming 2020 general elections.

The plans, the National Chairman of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo believes, were to rig the elections in favour of the incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

He explained that the decision by the EC to use only the Ghana Card and passport as the only required documents to get registered as a voter in the country was a calculated plan by the Akufo-Addo administration to rig the upcoming elections.

Last Tuesday’s meeting

The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, on Tuesday [June 16] held a three-hour closed-door meeting with the Special Budget Committee of Parliament.

The EC briefed the committee on the roadmap for the conduct of the 2020 general election.

Shortly after, the Minority in Parliament, at a press conference, expressed strong reservation about the decision by the EC to phase out 6,300 registration centres out of the 33,367 gazetted centres across the country.

Giving his version of what transpired at the meeting, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu said having listened to the EC Chairperson, he felt profoundly troubled for the future of Ghana’s democracy.

“I feel disappointed that in her answers to questions at the committee level, she made two significant worrying statements that Ghanaians must know,” he said.

He stated that what was even more worrying was the fact that the EC chairperson did not seem to understand the essence of what he described as “data synchronisation and data harmonisation.”

“In her answer to a simple question, she stated that the EC did not intend to use the data of the National Identification Authority. So what will the EC be doing with the NIA identity card?” he asked.

EC explanation

Explaining earlier the EC said all 33,367 polling stations across the country will be covered in the mass voters registration exercise.

The EC said the exercise, scheduled to begin on June 30, 2020, would be undertaken using the cluster system in five phases and did not mean that the number of polling stations would be reduced..

Five polling stations will form a cluster.

The Deputy Commissioner in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Bossman Eric Asare, told the Daily Graphic that the EC had procured 8,000 biometric voter registration kits, including backups, to cover the 33,367 polling stations across the country during the exercise.

He urged Ghanaians to disabuse their minds of the notion that the cluster system meant that the number of polling stations would be reduced.

Below is a copy of the EC’s statement

{pdf=https://www.graphic.com.gh/images/2020/jun/19/EC_RESPONDS_TO_MINORITY_LEADERS_CLAIMS_-_170620.pdf|100%|300|google}

EC RESPONDS TO MINORITY LEADER’S CLAIMS

Our attention has been drawn to a comment made by the Minority Leader of Parliament following a meeting between the Electoral Commission and the Special Budget Committee of Parliament of which he is a member.

In the said interview, the Minority Leader sought to suggest that the EC didn’t understand data synchronization because the Commission had indicated during the meeting that it was not going to rely on the biometric data of citizens captured by the NIA.

For the record, nowhere has the Commission stated that it intends to use the biometric data in NIA’s data base.

Indeed, the recently passed CI to guide the registration of voters, CI 126, does not include provisions to allow for the use of the biometric data of the NIA.

What the CI states and which is what the Commission is seeking to do is to rely on the physical NIA card to prove a person’s citizenship as a precondition for registration.

Indeed, had the Minority Leader read the CI 126, it would have been obvious to him that the Commission was not seeking to synchronize its data with that of the NIA.

For the record, merely presenting one’s card to prove one’s citizenship does not require a direct relationship or collusion with the NIA as the Minority has sought to portray.

It is interesting that the same Minority which accused the EC of being in bed with the NIA to rig the election, would today turn around and propose data synchronization which would require the EC to work directly with the NIA and rely extensively on its biometric data in its data base.

Again, the Minority leader is on record to have stated that, the EC indicated at the meeting that it was going to phase out and reduce the polling stations by 6,780.

For the records, the EC never made such a statement. What the EC said was that the 2020 registration would be in phases under a cluster system.

This means that the 33,367 registration centres will be divided into five. Each cluster would consist of 6,780 registration centres. Each cluster would be made up of 5 registration centres numbered 1-5.

During the first phase, all the registration centres numbered 1 nationwide will register applicants for 6 days.

During the second phase all registration centres numbered 2, will register applicants for 6 days. This will go on until all the phases are covered.

Thereafter, there will be a nationwide mop up exercise. At no point during the discussion did the EC state that it was phasing out or reducing the polling stations by 6,780.

Indeed, the fact that our explanation of the cluster system and methodology for registration never raised an eyebrow during our discussions indicates clearly that the EC never made this statement.

We have no doubt that members of the Committee would have been in a state of uproar if indeed the EC had made such an assertion.

It is difficult to imagine that Members of Parliament will gloss over this decision and not seek clarification from the Commission on a critical subject such as this.

Phasing out and reducing the polling stations by 6,780 is not an issue to be taken lightly by anyone let alone our Members of Parliament.

From the civil and comprehensive discussions that took place at the meeting, the claims by the Minority Leader are unfortunate.

The Commission wishes to thank the members of the Special Budget Committee of Parliament for their continued support and constructive feedback.

MRS. SYLVIA ANNOH
Ag. DIRECTOR, PUBLIC AFFAIRS

#GhanaVotes2020

Writer’s email: enoch.frimpong@graphic.com.gh 

Source: Politics