Let My Vote Count: Let’s respect EC’s decision on voters’ register Featured

By Kwasi Frimpong January 23, 2020 1017 113 comments

The Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) has declared its support for a decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters’ register for the December general elections.

The pressure group is also urging all Ghanaians to rally behind the EC to ensure the success of the registration exercise, scheduled to begin in April.

Addressing a press conference in Kumasi on Wednesday, the convener of the group, David Asante, eulogised the Jean Mensa-led EC for taking an independent initiative to carry out reforms before this year’s election.

Reform from within

Mr Asante said it is significant that since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1992, electoral reforms effected by the EC have often, if not always, been at the behest of political parties, civil society organisations, ginger groups and even individuals.

“The transition from the use of opaque ballot boxes to transparent ballot boxes, the introduction of photo ID cards and the use of biometric data in registration are all reforms that were initiated by persons outside of the EC,” he said.

“However, today, the call for a new voters’ register emanates from the EC itself, the body mandated by Article 46 of the 1992 constitution as the election management body of Ghana,” he said.

Mr Asante argued that the EC’s decision is in sync with the call by LMVCA and its allies since 2015, adding that the group “appreciates the fact that the EC has not remained static, but has heeded to the input of stakeholders and its own internal processes to evolve drastically to conform with modern trends and best practice in election management”.

“Much as we believe that demonstrations and civil protests are part of the democratic dispensation, we appreciate the finality brought to this issue by the decisive steps of the EC through definite and comprehensive timelines for the compilation of the new voters’ register. That is a decisive step that the citizenry and electorate must respect and uphold,” Mr Asante said.

Unfit for purpose

Mr Asante noted that a significant shortcoming of the current register is the inclusion of people who registered using National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards, which are not limited to citizens, but are available to all residents of Ghana.

“Consequently, the voters’ register included names of persons who were merely resident in Ghana and not necessarily citizens who were qualified to vote in our elections.

“This was confirmed by the ruling of the Supreme Court of Ghana in Abu Ramadan & Evans Nimako v EC & AG in 2016, in which the court held that the NHIS card was not a valid form of ID for voter registration; the court further directed the EC to expunge from the voters’ register the names of all persons who registered with the NHIS card,” he recalled.

LMVCA maintains that the issue of those who registered with NHIS cards has not been dealt with effectively by the EC, rendering the current voters’ register bloated and not fit for purpose.

Mr Asante said the EC’s justifications for a new register, prominent among which is that the data is controlled solely by the vendor and not the EC, makes a great deal of sense in favour of a new voters’ register.

“Furthermore, the EC has stated that there is a myriad of technical challenges in the management, maintenance and operation of the Biometric Verification Devices which hinder the smooth running of elections.

“We believe that the EC must therefore acquire modern technology that addresses these shortcomings. It is also authoritative to note that Parliament has approved the budget of the EC in that regard,” he said.

Darkest day

Meanwhile, LMVCA has described September 16 2015 as “one of the darkest days in the political history of our beloved nation, Ghana”.

On that day, members of the group clashed with the police during a demonstration to demand a new voters’ register in the run-up to the 2016 general election.

In an unprovoked attack, the police lashed out with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon on the protesters, who were calling for the compilation of a new roll.

Several people sustained injuries. They included Justice Adjakuma, who lost an eye, and Ernest Yeboah. Mr Adjakuma died at a hospital in Mallam, Accra, on May 12 2019.

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Last modified on Thursday, 30 January 2020 04:54


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