After months of denial and insistence that the Electoral Commission followed the law relating to biometric verification in the conduct of the 2012 General Elections, it turned out on Thursday that on the contrary, the Electoral Commission actually trained its officers to allow people vote even if they were not verified by the biometric device.
This surprising turn of events which completely changes the case of the respondents in the ongoing Petition before the Supreme Court came to light during the cross examination of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission by lead Counsel for the petitioners, Philip Addison.
In his cross examination, Counsel Addison referred the EC Chairman to the Biometric Verification Device manual authored by the Electoral Commission and which was used by the commission in the training of electoral officers for the 2012 Polls.
The lead counsel produced for Dr. Afari Gyan, a copy of the biometric verification manual but the copy produced by the petitioners was disputed by Dr. Afari Gyan who proceeded to pull out, through his lawyers, a separate copy of the manual.
However, not to be set back by this dispute, the petitioners’ counsel agreed to go by the manual which had been produced by the EC Boss and proceeded to request the EC boss to quote some paragraphs in the manual which foreword was authored by Dr. Afari Gyan himself.
Counsel Addison first asked Dr. Afari Gyan to read a part on Page 16 of the manual which states “If the biometric verification is not successful, the presiding officer would be alerted and he or she would take a final decision on the voter”.
Counsel Addison then requested Dr. Afari Gyan to read Page 20 of the manual which also states, “Polling officer action – polling officer notices that no successful verification can be done, the officer can decide on the face image alone to accept the voter. The presiding officer would take the final decision of voter eligibility. ”
These parts of the manual used to train electoral officers and used as part of the guide on election day goes contrary to the law (C I 75) and the agreement reached by all parties that no voter was to be allowed a vote if he or she failed to be successfully verified by the verification device; a position which was summed up in the popular phrase – “No Verification, No Vote (NVNV)” and which was championed by the Electoral Commission and all parties before the elections.
Counsel Addison after getting Dr. Afari Gyan to read the manual, suggested to the EC Boss that the officers of the EC were trained to allow voting without biometric verification and that the EC contravened the law by giving discretion to its presiding officers to allow persons vote without verification which was clearly against the law.
Dr. Afari Gyan, despite reading the manual which clearly supports the suggestions put to him by counsel Addison, disagreed and said that he is not a lawyer to have a position on the matter.
Counsel Addison also suggested to the Electoral Commission that with the manual and training of the presiding officers as had been proven in court, the C3 section of the pink sheet which was meant to create a leeway for people to vote without verification couldn’t have been put in error as had earlier been stated by Dr. Afari Gyan and that it was a well thought out move by the Commission to have people vote without being verified contrary to the law and then have that recorded on the pink sheet.
It is strange to note that Dr. Afari Gyan had himself earlier in cross examination giving a hint of a discretion given to presiding officers on verification when he stated that if he was a presiding officer, he would have allowed certain “important” personalities to vote without being verified.
The latest development, which is documentary in form, to an extent settles a significant part of the puzzle on the conduct of the elections and why presiding officers in their thousands allowed persons all across the nation to vote without being verified by the device as is recorded on the face of several pink sheets contrary to the C I 75.
The development also muddies the reputation of the EC further as they have ever since the commencement of the trial maintained that every single voter in the country was verified before being allowed to vote.
The Petitioners are praying the court to annul 2,240 polling stations where voting without biometric verification occurred as is evidenced on the face of pink sheets from such polling stations. A sum of the entries of the C3 sections on these pink sheets which indicates the number of people who voted without being verified by the device shows that 535,723 persons were allowed to vote without being properly identified by the device across the country.