The Justice Emile Short Commission which investigated political violence in the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election in the Greater Accra Region has recommended electronic voting for future elections.
In its report, the three-member commission urged the Electoral Commission to “explore the possibility of resorting to electronic voting or some other method which does not depend on physical ballot boxes”.
The use of the ballot boxes is as old as the Fourth Republic which began in 1992, initially opaque but now transparent, the ballot box, a symbol of democratic choice is becoming a magnet for chaos in the country’s 27-year old democracy.
The Police administration in 2012 announced, it has formed a ballot box security task force to protect the transportation of the boxes to and from the polling stations.
With the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election turning violent, the Commission of Inquiry also recommended the need for physical reexamination of the ballot boxes.
Worldwide, about 20 countries use some form of electronic voting. Britain, seen as the mother of all democracies, relies on paper ballots to elect 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons.
The US, popularly referred to as the world’s oldest democracy, uses a combination of direct voting machines to read the vote marked on ballot papers, as well as ballot papers.
Currently, Namibia, Nepal, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuela, besides the US, use some form of electronic voting.
In the US, direct vote-recording machines are used in 27 states, while 15 states use paper audit trail machines, according to two US government websites.
India also uses Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) despite the opposition’s demand for a return to paper ballots and manual counting in the 2019 general elections.
A country that has successfully used EVMs on a large scale during elections is Brazil, the fifth most populous country in the world, started using electronic voting in the mid-1990s, according to the Brazilian government website, much for the same reasons that prompted India to switch to EVMs and that include reduction of election fraud, coercion, snatching of ballot boxes and minimising counting anomalies.
In Africa, Namibia uses Indian EVMs, used in the 2014 presidential elections.