General News of 2014-06-06

Voters register not bloated - Afari-Gyan

The Electoral Commission has ruled out any audit of the current voters' register, saying there is no need since it is not bloated.

It said if people can bring legitimate issues and provide the commission with evidence that the register is bloated, then the auditing can be done.

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission disclosed this at the maiden series of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Dialogue in Accra Thursday.

It was under the theme: "Beyond August 29 verdict: Lessons and path Ahead".

Reacting to calls by some civil society organisations and political parties for the auditing of the register to clean it before the EC can embark on the upcoming registration exercise, Dr Afari-Gyan said, "I don't think the register is bloated, besides I don't know what auditing of the register means".

He explained that the auditing of the register was done prior to the last general elections where it was exhibited for people and political parties to verify and help eliminate double registration, minors, and dead voters from the register.

Touching on the upcoming registration, scheduled for June, 20-29, the EC Chairman said it was meant to capture those who could not register during the last registration.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said the EC would not reject the National Health Insurance card during the upcoming registration as the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and Parliament had already passed it as a legitimate identification of a Ghanaian.

He said the EC would soon call for an IPAC meeting to deliberate on' the "practicability" of the recommendations in the Supreme Court verdict.

He said all recommendations in the verdict were more administrative than structural which would require some legal backing for "structural reforms" to occur in the electoral process.

Mr. Afari-Gyan said the Commission had sampled lots of recommendations from CSOs and political parties to undertake some reforms in the electoral process and reiterated that the EC was opened for more suggestions which would improve upon the country's elections.

He dismissed the assertion that teachers were not used during the last elections, explaining that, it was during the registration process that teachers were not used, but they were fully involved during the elections.

He said the EC finds it difficult to sanction its temporary staff engaged during the elections who did not sign their pink sheets, stressing that, the EC had already dismissed some permanent officers who compromised the electoral process.

Dr. Afari-Gyan noted that in South Africa, there is a private firm that au-dits election results of the electoral commission for the credibility of the polls.

"1 hope in Ghana, all the political parties will agree on one private firm to audit our results," he said.

Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe, former Supreme Court Judge and first chairman of EC, commended the nine judges in the election petition case for their maturity during the eight months court hearing.

He called on Ghanaians to stop referring to the verdict as an "Atuguba" verdict and referring to the EC as an "Afari-Gyan" EC as both institutions during and after the elections were run by a panel of judges and commissioners respectively.

Justice Crabbe noted that no proper electoral reforms could be done if the "human beings involved in the process" are not reformed to protect the sanctity of the electoral system.

He appealed to political leaders to be honest with the electoral system and not to tamper with the process.

The Chairperson of the NCCE, Charlotte Osei, said the maiden dialogue series was instituted to bring stakeholders together to deliberate on the way forward for Ghana's elections.

She said a series of dialogues would be held during the year on ways of forging national cohesion and called on Ghanaians to support the NCCE.