‘No new register in the foreseeable future’ – Satisfied EC declares

After a controversial voter registration exercise, the Electoral Commission has expressed satisfaction that it has been able to pull through with its plans for a new register.

“…no new register, at least in the next foreseeable future,” Deputy EC Chair in charge of Corporate Services,Dr Bossman Asare, said, acknowledging the complaint about the number of voters register compiled since the return to democratic rule in 1992.

“We are only going to be adding on to this particular register…” he said on Friday, August 7, at the EC’ ‘Let the citizens know’ biweekly press briefing.

The mass voter registration exercise which started on June 31, 2020, was expected to end on August 6, 2020, but the EC has scheduled a few days in addition to complete a mop-up exercise.

The new register is set to be the fifth voters register in 28 years, averaging a new register 5.6years.

The new register, funded completely from government resources, cost GHC 390m.

Groups, mainly IMANI, insisted there was no need for a new register, explaining the one compiled in 2012 could be updated with minimal fuss.

Voter register compilation

The EC had highlighted the need for the new voters’ register based on several factors which included the need to replace the outmoded biometric machines and cleaning of the register deemed bloated.

The EC further argued that there were ineligible persons on the register that needed to be expunged.

The EC said the new system would have a facial recognition feature, non-existent with the previous data compiled in 2012.

Several Ghanaians raised concerns about the cost and repetitive registration with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) indicating that there was no need for a new voter roll.

Prior to the latest one, Ghana upgraded to a biometric voter register in  2012 which recorded about 14.3 million voters.

There have been previous registers compiled for the country in 2000, 1996 and 1992.

These registered had to be discarded due to population increase and technological advancement.

Ghana’s first voter ID in 1992 had no picture. Black and White Photo IDs were introduced in 1996 and later colored photo IDs in 2000.

After 12 years, Ghana compiled its first biometric register in 2012. Some eight years later, it has been overtaken with a register that will have facial recognition features.

Several electoral reforms were championed by the New Patriotic Party which spent the first eight years of the 4th republic fighting the NDC government for more transparent polls.

It is possible the Electoral Commission may never have to compile a new voters register because of the work undertaken by the National Identification Authority.

The NIA has been issuing Ghana card for all citizens. Their data is expected to be used as the basis of printing out voter ID cards for eligible voters on request.

16.6millions people registered

Providing an update on the provisions figures from the registrations, he pointed out that by the close of the process on Thursday, they had recorded 16.6millions registrations that exceed their target.

He indicated that a clean voters register was a basic foundation for clean, credible, and fair elections in December 2020.

The registration exercise has been anchored on transparency, fairness, and accountability, he emphasised.

With critics raising concerns about the huge number of registrations citing that it defeats one of the justifications of the old voter roll being bloated, Mr Asare emphasised that a limited voter registration exercise would have resulted in nearly 20 million as the final figure.

With Ghana’s population estimated to be about 30 million, Dr Asare was of the view that the registration so far falls between 50% to 55% of the total country size hence acceptable for a nation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He cited the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) reporting Ghanaians who are above 18 years to be 17, 624 which was about 57% of the population.

Hence,“We are completely on track as far as the Ghana Statistical Service is concerned”.

He is hoping for the cooperation of all stakeholders to successfully complete the programme of the EC for the rest of the year.

Two-day mop-up exercise

The EC has extended its registration exercise for two more days from August 8-9, 2020.

The EC indicated that this will take place at the its district offices across the country.

According to the commission, this would serve as another opportunity for eligible Ghanaians to register.

A breakdown of the 16,663, 669 registered voters (provisional):

Upper West Region – 459,709 (2.8%)
Upper East Region – 644,605 (3.9%)
North East Region -285,001 (1.7%)
Greater Accra Region – 3,466,751 (20.8%)
Western Region – 1,103,728 (6.6%)
Western North Region – 458,416 (2.8%)
Central Region – 1,547,991 (9.3%)
Volta Region – 920 309 (5.5%)
Oti Region – 349,218 (2.1%)
Eastern Region – 1,598,571 (9.6%)
Ashanti Region – 2,980,475 (17.1%)
Bono Region – 644,224 (3.9%)
Ahafo Region – 312,186 ( 0.9%)
Bono East – 584, 374 (3.5%)
Savannah Region – 278,746 (1.7%)
Northern Region – 1,029,395 (6.2%)

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