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Ghana swaps indelible ink for biometric voter verification

Opposition raises concerns
Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections  |  ID for All
Ghana swaps indelible ink for biometric voter verification

In Ghana, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has expressed concerns about the negative consequences of abandoning indelible ink in favor of strictly biometric verification for voter verification, ahead of general elections scheduled for December 2024.

According to Modern Ghana, National Chairman of the NDC Johnson Asiedu Nketiah spoke at a press conference on the issue, explaining the NDC is against the removal of the indelible ink “because it visibly, transparently, and physically verifies voters in addition to biometric verification,” to “discourage and prevent them from engaging in multiple voting.”

Nketiah questioned why it would be beneficial to do away with a system that can add additional credibility to the electoral process, adding that the stain of indelible ink on a person’s finger would be the easiest way to identify voter fraud if a biometric verification device at a polling station were to malfunction.

The recent District Assembly elections were conducted using the biometric verification system sans indelible ink, though voters first needed to manually identify themselves with their physical ID to be marked in a physical record before using the digital system. In an opinion piece for B & FT, Dr. Kofi Anokye Owusu-Darko says he believes the reliance on physical IDs demonstrates a need for risk management, which the indelible ink system could enforce.

He also expresses other concerns, such as the potential for the system to be subjected to Denial-of-Service attacks, which could stop biometric readers at different polling locations from sharing who voted.

If this happens, a voter could be verified and vote at one polling station and “with the connivance of a rogue EC official pretending to be manually checking the register for his details which does not exist, can be allowed to vote again” at a different station, says Owusu-Darko. System failures could also completely disrupt a more digitally dependent voting system.

Other instances still require the manual verification of voters, such as if someone’s biometrics are not already present in the system or if someone has a disability that could alter fingerprint comparison.

“Not using the indelible ink in the District Assembly elections cannot be seen as a test run for the general elections in December 2024… where the stakes are much higher to ignore the need to use the indelible ink,” he said.

The biometric verification system at the December 19th district level elections failed to differentiate between identical twins, determining that one woman had already voted because it identified her as her sister, who had voted earlier at the same polling station.

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