It’s been barely 10 days since the first election with biometric verification came to an end. So far, we have enjoyed peace though there have been a few issues relating to the acceptance of the results by the minority party. This article, however, is not to debate on the results but to take a technological peep into the whole electoral process which has widely come to be known as the first biometric election in the world. Some say otherwise, though.
A few weeks to the Ghana biometric elections, I had the rarest privilege of working at the warehouse where the biometric devices were being assembled. Please don’t ask me how. It was a great experience, getting to work on the devices, sieving the malfunctioning ones, etc. Honestly, I was surprised to hear in the media that some of the devices had stopped working. They felt robust at the warehouse. But as you may already know, machines are machines.
It is warming to know that Africa has embraced biometric verification in such delicate areas such as elections. If I had taken my Cousera course in “Securing Digital Democracy” seriously, I’m sure I could have given a deeper insight. With the many mishaps that have befallen African economies, it is quite a bold step to take in using such devices in such a process considering all the worst things that could happen. Ghana had its fair share, with our elections running into a second day and increasing the state of tension in the country, etc. I wonder how that would have been for other countries on the continent.
Social media played a major role in making this year’s election a success.
#GhanaDecides was the official hash tag which eventually topped the Top Trends on Twitter over the weekend. Just to give you a little insight. Ghana Decides is a Blogging Ghana project that was initiated just for the elections. Its main aim was “to foster a better-informed electorate for free, fair and safe 2012 Elections using online social media tools.” Honestly, they have lived up to expectation. It was a great way of aggregating all the information as the electoral process continued.
With the setting up of the Ghana SMTC, social media could never get boring. SMTC tried to engage tweeters to gain more information about results, violent attacks and other relevant information. This was a great source of information to media houses and followers alike. More is said about SMTC in a related article.
It was great to know that almost all the parties had presence on all the social media networks, even together with their flag bearers. And in times such as this, it’s always easy to get a follow back even from John Mahama, Nana Akuffo-Addo and Papa Kwesi Nduom. I can tell Obama has set the stage for political campaigns on social media, and I’m happy African politicians have seen the need.
The relevance of technology cannot be underestimated in the past elections. Being one of the most fiercely contested so far, it was such a great risk depending on simple biometric devices (essentially firmware, an SD card and four batteries) to make the electoral procedure a success. Ghana has embraced tech democratically and this has manifested in our elections. I hope to see more technological indulgence of the government sooner or later.