Two days into the limited registration exercise, the Electoral Commission (EC) is struggling to overcome challenges in the use of the online installed system in its district offices.
Officials of the commission have, therefore, resorted to the use of the offline system to ensure the smooth operation of the exercise.
That notwithstanding, the exercise was smooth in the areas visited, apart from the usual long queues associated with such exercises.
This came to light when the Daily Graphic yesterday visited some of the district offices in Accra where the registration is going on.
The offices visited were in the Okaikwei, Ashiedu Keteke, Ayawaso Central, Ayawaso North, Ayawaso East, Ayawaso West and Osu Clottey districts.
Officials of the EC who spoke in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic mentioned challenges with the online system, among other minor challenges.
How the system works
In the Okaikwei District, the Electoral Officer, Alhaji Yunusah Salifu Rasheed, explained that the online system worked for some few hours last Monday morning but went off later in the day and had not been restored as of 12 noon yesterday.
Although they had expected the system to be back on yesterday, he said, it had still not been restored and so they had to work with the offline system.
Explaining the difference between the online and the offline systems, he said an applicant’s data captured with the online system went into the EC’s database, while data captured with the offline system had to be exported to the database.
‘Double registration is a crime’
Again he said with the online system, if an applicant engaged in double registration, it would immediately be detected if his or her data were taken, but with the offline, it would take a while before any double registration would be noticed.
“Now we are working with the law and so if one is found engaging in double registration, his or her name will be taken from the register and the culprit processed for court to be prosecuted,” he cautioned.
In spite of the challenge with the online system, he said, the registration process had been smooth, apart from a few misunderstandings caused by political party agents.
The Osu Clottey District Electoral Officer, Mrs Hagar Rachael Mensah, explained that the online system was off but the EC had made provision for the offline system to cope with the number of people going to register.
“The EC foresaw some of these challenges associated with the online system and planned for the offline system to ensure that there is a back-up when the online is down,” she explained.
Besides the network issue related to the online challenge, she said, the pressure on the online system was partially accountable for the breakdown.
‘New card bearers can’t guarantee for others’
She further explained that applicants who had just received their voter cards could not use them to guarantee for new applicants, since the new cards had not be exhibited and certified.
The Ashiedu Keteke District Electoral Officer, Mr Eric Okyere, said the use of the online system would save time and even money, as the data went straight into the EC’s database.
On how smooth the exercise had been, he said it was chaotic at the centre last Monday, as the applicants went there in their numbers to register, noting, however, that there had been law and order yesterday.
He also noted that a good number of the applicants did not have the documents needed for the registration and so they had to resort to the use of the guarantor option to enable them to register.
At the various centres visited, it was observed that there were long queues, while potential applicants waited in the scorching sun for hours to take their turn with the registration officers.
Concerns raised by agents and applicants
In separate interviews, some party agents and applicants expressed concern about the long queues and the small number of registration centres and urged the EC to decentralise the centres to enable the process to move faster.
“The queue is too long and the place for the registration is very far for some of the applicants.
We have to find ways to motivate potential applicants to come and register because the cost of transportation is too much for them,” Nii O.T. Ankrah, an agent of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the Osu Clottey District Office, said.
Mr Mike Daniel Adodo, another NDC agent, expressed concern about the online system, saying the EC should have stuck to the electoral area registration, instead of the district office because that was not working.
The Osu Clottey Constituency Vice-Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Alhaji Aliu Kabe, said the process had been smooth and peaceful and expressed the hope that it would continue like that throughout.
Kofi David, who has just turned 21 and is determined to vote in the 2020 elections, said he had been in the queue since Monday but was yet to go through the process to get his card as of yesterday.