New voters’ register: ‘No one will be left behind’–EC Chairperson

The Electoral Commission says it will ensure that every qualified Ghanaian registers for the 2020 election to clear deep-rooted suspicion that it planned to disenfranchise a section of the electorates in Ghana.

“We are determined to ensure that no one is left behind. Our decisions are taken without fear or favour, without recourse to any individual or group of persons. We have a duty to our citizens to ensure that only the will of the people stands,” the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, said on the eve of the registration process which ends on August 5.

Buoyed by the decision of the Supreme Court, which removed all impediments on the commission’s way, the EC boss says its cross now is to ensure that all qualified citizens have the right to vote on December 7.

“The commission is of the view that only eligible citizens should have the right to determine who governs and leads our dear nation.”

The country’s apex court on June 25 gave the EC the go-ahead to compile a new voter register as it dismissed a case brought against it by the opposition National Democratic Congress, which believed that the exclusion of the existing voter ID card, from the list of items required to prove citizenship, will disenfranchise millions of Ghanaians.

The court, however, agreed with the NDC that those with the existing card had accrued rights that should not be denied them, but they must present themselves at the registration centres and comply with Constitutional Instrument (CI 126), which governs the registration process.

Per the CI, applicants are expected to produce a passport or the Ghana card as proof of Ghanaian citizenship or provide two registered voters to guarantee for them.

Seeking to rally Ghanaians to patronise the registration exercise, he said, “I urge all Ghanaians to move forward with the commission in implementing the ruling of the court.”

“Indeed, this is the moment for all of us to move forward. It is time for all of us to turn our energies towards the exercise of registering voters. Let us join hands together, notwithstanding our differences to ensure that every deserving Ghanaian of 18 years and above is able to register as a voter,” she said.

Monitor exercise

Ahead of one of the most polarised registration exercises in recent history, Mrs Mensa urged the citizenry to police the exercise to clothe the register with integrity.

“Your participation in, and monitoring of the voter registering exercise will be critical to maintaining the integrity of the register. Please participate in the voters’ registration exercise, monitor the process at your registration centres and draw the attention of the commission to any anomalies you might have observed in the process. Together we will arrive at a comprehensive and credible voters’ register.

With the NDC and some opposition parties protesting the use of the guarantor system to vouch for eligible voters who have no passport nor Ghana card, Mrs Mensa said while the EC acknowledged the concerns, which seemed like a burden, “it seems to us the lesser of two evils.

“Although it may take a little bit of your time and that of your guarantors, it will ensure that persons who are Ghanaians and 18 years and above are enlisted on our voters’ register.”

Use of guarantor system

Delving into past registration exercises, she said the use of guarantors were not new in Ghana’s voting procedures, arguing that it had been part of the system since 1992.

From the EC’s data, in 2014, 928,514 were registered; In 2016, 1,046,607 were registered as voters, with 93.5% using guarantors. In the continuous registration process in 2016, 37,929 were registered out of which 91.3% used guarantors. In the referendum of 2018, 47,825 persons were registered with 99.5%, using guarantors. During the limited registration process of 2019, 1,211,395 persons were registered with 95.2 % used guarantors.

“My predecessors have applied this system in the past voter registration process, as they sought to ensure that no one was disfranchised for valid reasons beyond their control.

“I hope and pray that the 2020 election should be the last time that we as a country use the guarantor systems. By the end of 2020, all citizens should have been issued with national identification cards and it should become procedure carried out at the regional, district and national level.”

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