Voter Identification and Registration in Ghana: A Technical Assessment December 15 December 22, 1993
From November 27 to December 8, 1993, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) conducted a technical assessment of the .current voter identification and registration process in Ghana: The purpose of this assessment was to assist the Government of Ghana and the international community in their efforts to improve the Ghanaian voter register in preparation for general elections in 1996. This assessment mission was made possible by funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its mission in Accra, Ghana. The scope of the assessment included the following areas of study:
1) Concerns about the 1992 voter registry;
2) Structure of the Ghanaian electoral system;
3) Statutes governing elections, registration and voter identification;
4) Data processing capacity of the National Electoral Commission;
5) Other analyses by the Ghanaian government of national identity card options;
6) Voter education on the registration process;
7) Voter Registrar training;
8) Election timetables; and
9) Supply cost estimates for registration system options.
The IFES team met with members and staff of the Ghanaian National Electoral Commission (NEC), Statistical Services (SS), Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the leadership of registered political parties and representatives of the governments of the United States and Denmark. The team prepared three sets of questions for the NEC in order to obtain general information as well as to provide guidelines for the NEC to refer to in the implementation of the registration project.
The responsibility for issuance· of voter identity cards and the compilation· and maintenance of the voter register rests with the NEC. However, official individual identification and the issuance of national identity cards could involve a larger activity which requires the assistance of several other Ghanaian government entities. The development of such a national database could have census applications outside of the electoral process in such areas as health care, economics and agriculture.
In 1992, an interim report was developed which proposed a system for the establishment of a national identification card. Although the objectives of the report were worthy, an analysis of timetables and costs make the viability of the proposal difficult to implement.
IFES recognizes the major components involved in a national voter identification and registration system consisting of:
1) voter education on the eligibility requirements and process of registration;
2) training of voter registrars;
3) the management of voter registration source documents, cards and procedures; and
4) the. production of voters lists for use at polling stations.
On the basis of the assessment team's conversations and analyses, IFES recommends the development of voter education programs which include the print, broadcast and traditional oral media. These programs must take into account the languages, literacy levels and local customs of the voting population. Equally important is the training of the voter registrars conducting the process. The reduction of registration errors and consistency in the completion of registration forms/cards are integral to the overall accuracy of the list and success of the program. IFES recommends that the source documents of the registration system include a three-part (self-duplicating) registration form/identity card designed to facilitate data entry as well as to improve the accuracy of the register.
In order to implement the project, a four to five-person support team should be assembled. The team would include an on-site project manager who would direct and coordinate the activities of the other consultants and serve as a special advisor to the NEC on the registration process. Additional consultants would be brought in to work on voter education, registrar training and data processing as required.
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