The successful incorporation of the Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs) into our electioneering processes renders the use of indelible ink obsolete.
After 12 years of assessing the effectiveness of BVDs, it is prudent to fully embrace their potential and benefits, necessitating the retirement of the outdated indelible ink usage.
The BVD system does not operate in isolation. It works together with a robust Database Management System (DBMS) that has the functionality to store the biometric data of voters. The DBMS uses the biometric data as a primary key to identify duplicates, fetches them out, and quarantines such records from the electoral database.
The final data without duplications is then distributed onto the BVDs according to constituencies and polling stations. It is therefore impossible for one’s details to be found at more than one polling station to necessitate possible multiple voting. This is what the indelible ink in our electoral process was introduced to prevent.
Technology is meant to solve socio-economic problems. A good number of people in our societies fail to vote because of the application of the indelible ink on the finger.
Effects of indelible ink
An article published online by Cambridge University Press on 13 July 2018 emphasized the effects of indelible ink on voter turnouts.
In our bid to strengthen our democracy by encouraging inclusiveness, it is just right to take out any feature of the process that has the potential to discourage people from participating in this all-important exercise.
There have been several research works on the use of indelible ink for voting, focusing on its chemical composition and possible health hazards. Indelible ink contains Silver Nitrate (AgNO3).
According to a document published by the New Jersey Health Department titled “Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet,” Silver Nitrate is corrosive and has several health hazards.
All political actors owe it as a duty to protect the very people whose votes we earnestly seek by not bringing them close to any possibly dangerous substance, no matter what. If there is available technology that can achieve the same results, let us open ourselves to new and innovative ideas.
At each voting center, there’s also manual facial recognition by EC officials and polling station agents to ensure the validity of the voter.
Once a person votes, the BVD records as such, and the EC officers record the same in the physical album by ticking against the person’s name. All these processes render the indelible ink’s traditional purpose obsolete in our contemporary dispensation.
Each bottle of indelible ink costs approximately GH 60, and each of the 33,674 polling stations utilizes two bottles. The financial burden on the Ghanaian taxpayer amounts to about GH 4,040,880. It is, therefore, imperative to avoid this extra expense.
Stephen Forson is an IT Expert of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).