Dr Franklin Oduro, Deputy Executive Director of Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD), has raised issues with the resort to manual verification of voters during last December's referendum saying it created room for circumventing electoral rules to perpetuate anomaly.
He said it is not illegal to do manual verification of voters during voting but argued that the mass level at which the practice was carried out during the referendum raised issues of credibility of the polls.
He said he was not surprised that the two main political parties in the country; New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress, did not raise issues with such anomaly because they supported the creation of new regions.
Dr Oduro raised the issues when making a presentation on the topic: "The 2018 Referendum: Lessons for 2019 Referendum and Elections 2020," at a strategic partners' learning event organized by NORSAAC, a civil society organization (CSO), in Tamale on Wednesday.
The event, which formed part of NORSAAC's "Referendum We Want" project, supported by STAR Ghana Foundation, was attended by state institutions, CSOs, political parties, traditional authorities and the media.
The objective of the event was to share NORSAAC's observation report on the December, 2018 referendum on the creation of new regions for the participants to assess the conduct of the referendum, make recommendations to help improve the conduct of subsequent elections especially the referendum scheduled for September, this year.
NORSAAC's observation report of the 2018 referendum showed that electoral officials did not position voting booths to ensure secrecy of voting, and some electoral officials went further to thumbprint the ballot papers for voters and proceeded to dropping them inside the ballot boxes amongst other irregularities.
Dr Oduro said there was no report of mass malfunctioning of the biometric verification devices adding that the failure to biometrically verify most of the voters created room to perpetuate anomaly.
He said, "If we use discredited means to get a certain outcome against the will of the people, the consequences will be dire for the country."
He said the referendum to be held in September on the election of MMDCEs was complex in terms of the issues involved calling for more resources for state bodies to undertake effective public education on the referendum to ensure that the public was well-informed to vote appropriately.
Alhaji Abdul Razak Saani, Northern Regional Director of National Commission for Civic Education, called for efforts to build public confidence in the Electoral Commission for people to believe that it was doing a credible job.
Mr Andani Issah Natogma, Tamale Metropolitan Director of the Electoral Commission, said the Commission would enforce the rules to ensure that nobody goes beyond the electoral laws to perpetuate illegality during polls.
Mr Alhassan Mohammed Awal, Executive Director of NORSAAC, called for measures to ensure that flaws observed during the referendum in December were not repeated in subsequent polls to affirm the integrity of polls.