It looks like Ghana pulled off the most pervasive national biometrically verified elections ever attempted. Brazil probably biometrically verifies more voters than Ghana just did but Brazil is taking a gradual approach to biometric voter verification, scheduled for complete coverage by 2018.
Ghana went straight for blanket coverage and by most accounts did quite well. Of course nothing is perfect. Due to a lack of election materials and some problems with the biometric machinery, some polling places opened late on Friday and reopened on Saturday which wasn’t in the original program.
I had an email exchange over the weekend with a colleague in Accra who has worked with electoral biometrics in Ghana. It leads me to believe that this article posted at Modern Ghana gets things just about right.
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to actively engage electoral officers and all persons associated with the Biometric Verification Machines process in intensive education prior to future elections.
According to CODEO however, “the problems and lapses in the voting process on December 7 which resulted in the adjournment of the process did not fundamentally undermine the overall integrity of the conduct of the polling, of counting and collation of ballots… In spite of the logistical and technical challenges, CODEO is of the view that the December Presidential and General elections have been well conducted.”
We’ve said before, training electoral workers and informing the public is a HUGE part of the challenge of implementing biometric elections. It’s also one of the most expensive parts — more expensive than the technology (if done correctly), even in places with low labor costs.
Biometrics, like elections, are about people. So, congratulations to the people of Ghana on the success of the biometric voter enrollment and verification project.