Don’t use election observation for only fault finding-Afari-Gyan to observers

A former Chairman for the  Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has underscored the need for election observers to see election observation as a fact-finding activity instead of fault finding.

According to the former EC boss, a neutral stance facilitated collaboration between observer groups and election management bodies (EMBs) for the common purpose of achieving genuine democratic elections.

Speaking at the West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) Conference in Accra on Tuesday, he said the issue raised by election observer groups on limited access to technology systems of EMBs would differ from country to country depending on whether the relationship between the observer group and the EMB was cooperative or adversarial.

He also indicated at the conference it would also depend on the kind of information about the EMBs technology system that the observer group wanted.

In his view, party agents, observers, and the media could still scrutinize the operational aspects of the system by finding out how user-friendly the technology was to officials and voters and how efficient it was in the delivery of the vote irrespective of the degree of access to an EMBs technology system during an election.

Dr. Afari-Gyan was also of the view that an election may not be credible irrespective of the best technologies employed in organizing it.

“This underscores the singular importance of the human factor in elections,” he added.

“Technology is used to assist election officials to do their work. So, beyond technology, an EMB has a responsibility to put its house in order for elections.”

He said at the minimum, EMBs must build checks into the electoral process, such that genuine mistakes and deliberate wrongdoing could be detected.

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