Ghana: biometric registration for election futile?

Ghana government has recently decided to spend GHS 50 million to implement biometric registration for upcoming 2012 elections. Electoral Commission (EH) which will be conducting the registration has been already facing criticism for the allegations that the registration system is not capable of veryfing collected data upon ballot cast and therefore wasting the funds. IPAC, the Inter-Party Advisory Committee is also being criticized for not taking action to prevent money waste and possible election fraud.
Surprisingly the critics don’t offer much of an explanation how such verification process should look like. Even Ghana not being a large country, not for Africa standards anyway (over 238k square kilometers) with less than perfect infrastructure expecting biometric verification at the election polls does not sound real. A finger print scanner at every election post connected to a central biometric database would require high cost computer network infrastructure that even most developed countries can’t efford. It is hard to imagine the cost of a such enterprise and therefore total cost of elections.
Ghana government introduced highly secure, biometric ID card in 2008. All Ghana citizens 6 years and older are eligible for the card. Sure it takes effort to get the card but registering for the vote is not effort free either. In country with a history of election fraud or questioning election results a need for fraud free election comes without a doubt. Many US state legislators have recently passed bills requiring photo ID card to vote eventough evidence of election fraud in the US remains low for decades. I would advise authorities to put more effort into getting all citizens ID card rather than spend money on doubtful election security measures.

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