Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, August 01, 2016
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has opposed the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) to transmit the results of the December 7 general elections electronically.
NPP Campaign Manager, Peter Mac Manu, said the party was not happy with the conduct of the EC, which is bent on using electronic means to transmit the results in the crucial elections.
Preparations are underway for the EC to award the contract for e-transmission, and five companies have already been shortlisted to do a demonstration in the latter part of next week.
The EC placed an ‘Expression of Interest’ advert in the dailies on 2nd March, 2016 and 16 companies responded. Five of them namely: InfoTrend, BSystems/Computer Foundation, Persol Systems, Scytl and Smartmatic, were picked for final selection.
According to the NPP Campaign Manager, no political party or civil society organization has received invitation from the EC to attend the demonstration, adding that the commission had not been able to convince the electorate on the need for e-transmission during the election.
“First, there is no law which gives the EC the mandate to electronically transmit results. Nothing in the law before parliament now - C.I. 94 - makes mention of it,” Mr Mac Manu argued.
“Also, the law talks about the EC receiving all the collated results from the Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results (Pink Sheets), signed by party agents at the constituency level, and the expectation is that they will be brought to the National Collation Centre before the winner of the presidential race will be declared,” he added.
One of the main demands from the election petition, which followed the 2012 presidential poll, is for the returning officer (in this case, Mrs Charlotte Osei, EC boss) not to declare the results without having physical custody of all the collated pink sheets from all (now 29,000 polling stations) nationwide.
Although the EC has not said it intends to declare a winner based on the results transmitted electronically, the NPP is not convinced about why it (EC) would spend money on e-transmission.
“If the EC does not intend to declare results based on e-transmission, then for what purpose is that option to us? We require some good answers here,” Mr. Mac Manu charged.
“The focus, we believe, should rather be on first ensuring that a certified true copy of the pink sheet, from each of the 29,000 stations, is brought to the National Collation Centre before the Chairperson of the EC finally declares the winner. They can all be brought to Accra within 48 hours from even the remotest part of Ghana,” he stressed.
The NPP has also raised another concern over the integrity of e-transmission, which it believes has been compounded by the reluctance of the electoral management body to be transparent to key stakeholders and the general public on the details of the proposed e-transmission.
“Potentially, the results can be tampered with and by that I mean modified mid-transmission, particularly in the absence of strong network security and encryption,” he expressed.
“Also, if the system starts sending and breaks down midstream, there could be confusion. We have seen that in Ecuador, where for two weeks the results were not coming. We have seen that in Mexico and we have also seen e-transmission failing in Kenya, which was the main reason behind their election petition in 2012,” he recalled.
“Should the partial results sent be accepted? How should the rest be captured? In the process could there be a manipulation of the results?” he queried, adding, “Results transmission does not in any way control the abuse of the electoral process. It does not address ‘foreign’ ballots. It is an ‘after-the-fact’ process. If there are only 800 voters on the register, how will the system prevent transmission of results cast in excess of that number?”
He admitted e-transmission would ensure quick declaration of results, but noted that it could also end up creating confusion where there is a discrepancy between the electronically transmitted results and what is contained on the actual pink sheets.
“If the EC was really serious about e-transmission, then it should have backed that with legislation. No constitutional instrument supports this radical shift - very ironic for a commission that insists on deleting names according to existing law, even where the Supreme Court has ordered so to be done.”