Freetown — A Commissioner for the National Electoral Commission NEC has disclosed to the media and civil society groups that contrary to misinformation, there will be no biometric voting come 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections. Miata French made this disclosure yesterday at a day sensitization forum organized by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES-SL) at the Mamba Point resort at Wilberforce in Freetown.Ghana: Electoral Commission Accepts Biometric Voter Verification (Daily Ghana Guide)
She said the biometric system will only be used for voter registration and that it would be stopped immediately registration ends.
Dr. Afari-Gyan had reportedly rejected calls from various bodies including religious organisations for the EC to ensure there was voter verification at the December 7, 2012 general elections, stating nobody could dictate to the commission how it should carry out its constitutional mandate.The world's newest, and most fragile, democracies are embracing biometric ID management techniques in order to buttress the electoral process. Biometrics can add a layer of identity assurance to the electoral process at an affordable price.
However, speaking at a day’s conference organised by the West African Parliamentary Press Corps in Accra yesterday, the EC chairman indicated there would be biometric registration as well as verification as the budget for both processes had been presented to government.
“Anything that improves the system of verifying people’s identity is good. So if there is another way of improving the system, we have to do it,” Dr. Afari-Gyan remarked.
There's also a lot of confusion about what people mean when they talk about biometrics in elections. Different methods of involving biometrics in the electoral process lead to disparate impacts on the reliability of the final vote tallies.
E-voting - Votes are simultaneously cast and recorded using a computer.
Biometric Voter Registration - The voter registration process involves recording a biometric identifier along with all the other data required in order for an individual to register to vote. A database de-duplication process is undertaken to minimize fraudulent registrations.
Biometric Voter Verification - Before an individual is allowed to vote, their identity is verified using the biometric provided at registration.
Biometric Voting - most often refers to an e-voting system where the biometric voter verification and voting function take place on the same machine. The term "Biometric Voting" also seems to serve as a catch-all for using biometric ID management techniques at any stage of the electoral process.
Using these definitions, it's possible to have biometric registration without biometric voting, biometric voter registration without biometric voter verification, biometric voter registration and/or biometric voter verification without biometric voting, and e-voting without any biometrics at all. Different combinations lead to differing likelihoods of obtaining accurate and fraud-free vote tallies.
Some voting schemes built from combinations of the technology defined above may even represent a net step backward from the status quo. If biometrics are integrated into the electoral process where the scope for fraud is quite small and omitted where the weakness of the electoral process is most pronounced, the presence of biometrics might give citizens a false sense of security regarding the integrity of the vote. Knowing you're naked is one thing. Being naked when you think you're clothed opens the door to a different set of risks.