Limited voters’ registration burdensome for new voters

Ghana’s law generally makes it very easy to vote. Voters may cast their ballots on election day in person at a “voting center” in their electoral area of residence. If a voter tries to vote in the wrong precinct, the vote is not counted or even allowed. Some contend that registering at one center this time has adverse and disparate effect on new voters and that the current process is discriminatory and will disenfranchise some voters. Others think registering at one place has no meaningful adverse impact on new voters. I think it imposes a bit more burden on individual parties trying to mobilize people to register. For a large constituency like Anyaa Sowutuom, it appears having 3 centers would have been an ideal situation to reduce the burden of commute, time spent in line and load of work on one station.

Though the EC has done well and has no discriminatory intent, I want to plead for 2 additional centers to be added before the registration process ends. Preferably, Awoshie, Anyaa, Ablekuma, Agape and Olebu enclave as one, Santamaria, Aunty Aku, Sowutuom and Kwashiebu as another, then lastly Tabora, Chantan and Lomnava as another enclave. This would reduce the burden on the voters, and people mobilizing new voters. At any rate the EC has many staff members willing to work on the field and are well trained to do so. I wish the EC can entertain the appeal being made by new voters and people working hard to ensure the smooth operation of the Electoral Commission. We wish to deny no eligible voter the ability to register during the next 2 weeks.

Voter registrations is part of processes leading to nomination or election of other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. It is a very important exercise for any aspiring assembly person, or parliamentary candidate and for that matter presidential results too.

Voting necessarily requires some effort and compliance with some rules; thus, the concept of a voting system that is “equally open” and that furnishes equal “opportunity” to cast a ballot must tolerate the “usual burdens of voting.” The idea that inconvenience in travelling or long wait is not important must not be accepted. We need to improve on standard practice in this new era of digitalizing of processes. Relevant consideration must be given to Anyaa Sowutuom so as to make the process less stressful. Granted smaller issues of a slow system will not be amplified, I think if more processing locations are provided, we will all gain.

The strength of the state interests—such as the strong and entirely legitimate state interest in preventing election fraud—is an important factor. Ensuring that every vote is cast freely, without intimidation or undue influence, is also a valid and important state interest. I wish to make a case that voter registrations for very large constituencies like Anyaa Sowutuom must be accomplished in a less burdensome way. The issue of getting more security for an overburdened center will not even be relevant. We want to offer an easy way to register to our new voters and this may reflect in the upcoming elections.

Appropriate weight must be given to the important state interests furthered by electoral-based voting. It helps to distribute voters more evenly among polling places; it can put polling places closer to voter residences; and it helps to ensure that each voter receives a ballot that lists only the candidates and public questions on which he or she can vote. Electoral-based registering has a long pedigree in the country, and the process could have been at minimum done on electoral basis to even reduce the burden on registrants and mobilizers. This would not affect the integrity of our election process and would absolutely create some employment opportunity for many youths in the nation.

There is ample support for allowing for more centers in order to reduce the burden on the people trying to register, their parents and other stake holders. Considering the historical background and the highly politicized sequence of events leading to the registrations, I’m of the opinion that large constituencies like mine must be carefully looked at and allowed to have more than one location for the program. We won’t say the process is unlawful, but rather burdensome for one major stakeholder, that is the new voter.

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