16 May 2019

Ghana: Afari-Gyan - Don't Rush to Introduce Technology Into Electoral Process

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, a former Electoral Commissioner, has cautioned Electoral Management Bodies (EMB) in Africa against the rush to introduce new technology into the electoral process.

He explained that before introduction of a new technology, an EMB must carefully consider what it wanted the technology to do and also review the track record of the technology and find out whether it had been used elsewhere for same purpose.

"The EMB also has to assess suitability of the technology to local, social, environmental conditions, evaluate cost implications for sustaining the technology, ascertain level of trust of political parties and electorate in the new technology," Dr Afari-Gyan pointed out.

He cautioned at the West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) Conference in Accra at the two-day conference on the theme: 'The Increasing Role of Technology in Election Administration-Implications for Election Observer Groups', organised by WAEON in collaboration with the Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana).

It is was attended by 60 participants drawn from across Africa which sought to bring together the citizenry, election observer groups and other electoral stakeholders in West-African sub-region to deliberate on emerging issues from technology-driven elections and election observation.

Dr Afari-Gyan indicated that "technology can be used in several ways in electoral administration such as managing large-scale data, particularly relating to voter registration, production of ballots, logistical planning, voter education, compilation and transmission of election results.

"There are good reasons for resort to use of technology in election administration, I think an EMB should not rush to introduce technology, before my retirement, some fellow election administrators indicated that Ghana started introducing technology before we did, but we have now overtaken you, to hear later they had serious challenges with their new technologies, it is not helpful to view introduction of technology as race for honours.

"In African contexts, which are inundated with suspicion and mistrust for technology to advance cardinal principle, it is important the process associated with it should be easy for all to use, accessible, secure, sustainable and transparent.

"You can have best election technology available, still not be able to deliver credible election which underscores singular importance of human factor in elections, technology is used to assist election officials to do their work, beyond technology, an EMB has responsibility to put its house in order for elections," Dr Afari-Gyan intimated. -GNA

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