The Centre for Open ICT Policy Analysis has noted, with grave a concern, similarities between Ghana’s impending e-voting system and that of the Uganda. The Ugandan project, also known as the voter registration database implementation system, was a failure as shown in their 2001 and 2006 elections. The District Electoral Commission (EC) of Uganda had been smoothly organising the country’s elections until in 2000 when they initiated a programme to rid the voters’ register of names of imposters, double voters, and dead voters by photographing all qualified voters. This programme was also meant to create an election database to be used to verify the 2001 elections. Therefore the government of Uganda invested $22 million on equipment, consultancy services and operations.
However, things went wrong at the early stages of the project, particularly during the bidding and delivery of equipment. This led to a strong public outcry about the transparency of the process. The public outcry came from stakeholders such as civil societies groups and the opposition political parties. Ugandan EC ignored these criticisms. And a s result a number of court cases between government and opposition groups, on one hand, and Ugandan EC and some companies, on the other hand (as it has already started in Ghana) were filed.
Despite these acrimonies Ugandan EC ignored the criticisms and proceeded to implement the project. The photographing took place for a very short period of time and many people were not captured by the system. Moreover, when the sample voters’ registers were produced by the system, they were erroneous, with some photographs not corresponding with names of voters. Not only was the system not immediately used in 2001 elections but also in 2006 elections. To make matters worse, the equipment became obsolete and the system was abandoned after the 2006 elections. The project was a complete failure and waste of resources, as it was never used.
The Ugandan e-voting system failed because the legitimate concerns raised by the interest groups were not addressed by the EC of Uganda. The Electoral Commission of Ghana must therefore take a cue from the Ugandan experience and corrects their acts.
The Centre for Open ICT Policy Analysis offers the following policy recommendations: In the first place, the EC of Ghana must not limit or reduce the life span of this project in order to meet the 2012 election deadline. Otherwise, Ghana may
be infected with Ugandan virus. The Ugandan EC started the project in 2000 and hurriedly wanted to use it for the 2001 elections. EC Ghana must move incrementally – or through what is called “Big bang” approach – because suddenly introducing a new technology and process into our environment is quite likely to fail.