24 December 2012

Ghana: Biometric Verifications Are Intact - EC

The Electoral Commission (EC) has said the biometric verification machines used in the just-ended general election are intact and have not been tampered with.

It said the electronic devices still had the records of the number of people who voted at each polling station.

Reacting to claims by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the EC had instructed its officials to set the machines to zero to destroy evidence which could aid the party to challenge the results of the elections at the Supreme Court, the Public Relations Officer of the commission, Mr Christian Owusu-Parry, said the machines had not been reset.

He said what had happened in the past few days was that the District Returning Officers had been asked by the EC to send the machines to the regional offices of the commission where proper storage facilities existed.

"These are electronic devices and need to be stored under the right conditions," he told the Daily Graphic, adding, "We do not have the right storage facilities at the district offices."

The General Secretary of the NPP, Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, on Thursday, accused the EC of instructing its officers, including those from Akwatia and Old Tafo, to reset to zero the verification machines used at the polling stations.

In a statement, he said: "We hope that this is not true because it would amount to tampering with" evidence in a clear breach of the law governing public elections, which provides that all materials must be preserved for at least one, year after an election."

"These biometric machines are likely to be used as evidence to show that the actual vote count in many areas, especially NDC strongholds, far exceeds the number of biometric verifications. We have reason to suspect that the NDC and some EC officials collaborated in a systematic, deliberate, and coordinated manner to break the law and disenfranchise voters who followed the correct procedures," Mr Owusu-Afriyie said.

Mr Owusu-Parry said the machines were safe and in the custody of the EC.

Asked if they would be released to assist any aggrieved entity in its bid to collect evidence, he said "the machines are the property of the state. Under what circumstance would anyone ask that we should release them?"

He was, however, quick to add that if any court of law made any such order, the devices would be released.

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