Former President John Dramani Mahama has asked the Electoral Commission to publish details of its investigations into the hacking of its transmission system during the 2016 general elections.
Mr. Mahama said Ghanaians deserve to know circumstances under which the EC’s system was compromised at the time.
“As I speak, I am not aware that the Electoral Commission has carried out any investigation into what compromised their IT system. And even if they have, we the stakeholders, the political parties, have not been briefed on what caused the corruption of the system.”
“In the interest of transparency, it is important for Ghanaians to understand what happened before we go into another election,“ the former President said.
John Mahama made the remark during a presentation at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University, organised in collaboration with the African Studies Centre and the Oxford Africa.
The EC went completely silent 12 hours after the 2016 elections with no confirmed or provisional results.
The EC chair at the time, Charlotte Osei subsequently broke her silence with an excuse that their systems had been compromised for which reason she could not continue with the electronic transmission of the results.
She did not explain what may have caused the compromise but was quick to add that they would rather rely on the manual process of results transmission.
The Commission on its Twitter page also condemned what it said were attempted to attack its website.
Some civil society organisations had put pressure on the EC to investigate the alleged hack.
A former boss of the Centre of Democratic Development (CDD), Prof Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi in 2018 was unhappy that the EC had so far not offered any explanation for the alleged system hack.
“…the confidence of Ghanaians in democracy is tarnished by perceived integrity gaps in the EC. It is telling to some of us that….months after the 2016 elections, the EC has not yet offered any validation of its claims of over voting in Ashanti region, neither has it produced confirmation that its computer servers were compromised and yet these were claims used to justify the delay in announcing the official results of the presidential polls.”
Below are excerpts of the former President’s statement
After leaving office, I have been involved in advocacy on democratic consolidation in Africa. This has gotten me involved in conferences dealing with African democratic and electoral systems.
Africa has come a long way from the era of steel ballot boxes and district counting centres. In past electoral systems, the citizen’s duty was to turn out to vote, the rest of the process from counting to the declaration of results were done out of sight of the electorate.
Electoral systems have improved since then, with innovations such as vote counting in-situ, biometric registers, verification machines, allowance for observation of elections by party agents, civil society and international observers.
This has improved the integrity of elections and lessened disputes. But other areas of complication have emerged. The use of IT in results transmission and the possibility of hacking have created new fears about the manipulation of results.
Examples of this can be found in the recent elections in Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone. During the last Presidential Election in Ghana, the Electoral Commission directed its staff to stop using the electronic result transmission system to communicate results to the tallying centre because the system had been compromised.
The results had to, therefore, be tallied manually, leading to attendant tensions in the delay of the announcement of the final results.
As I speak, I am not aware that the Electoral Commission has carried out any investigation into what compromised their IT system. And even if they have, we the stakeholders, the political parties, have not been briefed on what caused the corruption of the system.
In the interest of transparency, it is important for Ghanaians to understand what happened before we go into another election.