The New Patriotic Party has raised concerns with the planned transmission of results electronically from polling stations to the National Collation Center via the constituency collation centers.
According to the party, the move is not backed by law.
The EC is far-advanced in awarding the contract for e-transmission. Five companies were shortlisted and they are expected to do a demonstration of their respective solutions in the latter part of next week.
Speaking on Sunday, Peter Mac Manu, the Campaign Manager of the largest opposition party, said the EC has not been able to convince the country why it intends to do e-transmission of poll results in December.
“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 says.
“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 says.
The former NPP Chairman said since the EC does not intend to declare results based on the electronic ones, he is not convinced about the investment to be made into a firm to do that.
“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,” he says.
“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 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,” Mr Mac Manu argues.
The EC placed an Expression of Interest advert in the dailies on 2nd March 2016. Sixteen companies responded, five of them have been shortlisted. They are nfoTrend, BSystems/Computer Foundation, Persol Systems, Scytl and Smartmatic.
The NPP is also raising other concerns over the integrity of e-transmission, which they believe 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.
“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,” the former NPP National Chairman recalls.
He poses further questions: “Should the partial results sent be accepted? How should the rest be captured? In the process could there be a manipulation of the result?”
Mr Mac Manu does not see e-transmission as addressing the critical challenges that the reform process seeks to do.
“For example,” he notes, “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?”
To the NPP, e-transmission can end up creating confusion where there is a discrepancy between the electronically transmitted results and what is contained on the actual pink sheet.
Their Campaign Manager, however, admits that e-transmission will mean “quick receipt of election results at the centre, which will mean, the outcome of national election can be determined quickly. But we should never substitute accuracy for speed.”
He further concedes, if done properly, the process of confirming or accepting receipt of e-transmitted results can be more open and transparent.
“But, 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,” Mr Mac Manu says.