Ghana persists with biometric voter identification despite failures


A 2018 study of the use of biometric technology for voter identification and verification in Ghana in 2012 called the effort a failure. It's not enough, the researchers argue, for biometrics to be technically sound; for the technology to function as intended registration centres must have real-time connectivity to an electronic national register, electoral officials need to be trained intensively both to operate the machines and to handle outliers and breakdowns. The biometrics themselves are just one piece of a complex system. However, GenKey, the vendor that developed and deployed the system, called the effort a success, and Ghana went on to use the system in 2014 and 2016. After the 2012 election, the opposition New Patriotic Party took the elections to the constitutional court, which pointed out several flaws in a ruling that took eight months to produce. The Electoral Commission went on to create a ten-member committee to oversee proposals for electoral reform before the 2016 election. Similar widespread problems in Nigeria in 2015 required the extension of voting to a second day, as happened in Ghana in 2012. The widespread problems during both the 2012 attempt and Ghana's second attempt in 2014 required voting to be extended to a second day and some locations had to drop the use of card readers. Ghana went on to try again in the 2016 elections, and is one of 25 African nations that has used biometrics to identify voters.

Writer: John Effah and Emmanuel Debrah; Vibe Ghana; GenKey 
Publication: ; Vibe Ghana; GenKey; 

Publication date: 2018-03-08; 2015-03-30; 2016-12-07

Learn more
Related learning resources