The Electoral Commission (EC) has rejected claims that its intended limited registration exercise at the district level will disenfranchise Ghanaians.
The EC argues that the plan to organise the registration at the district level falls in line with measures to upgrade its Information Technology (IT) infrastructure.
Since it made the announcement, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has kicked against it saying that such a move will not be in the interest of voters.
Responding to the concerns however on Eyewitness News, Deputy EC Chair, Dr. Eric Bossman Asare said there is no cause for alarm as adequate measures have been put in place to get all persons registered.
“This not so much of a problem. When we met last month at our IPAC meeting, we made it clear that the EC was working to review its IT infrastructure. So in order to maximize our resources, we agreed to do an online registration. We are not saying people should not go and register. We even made it clear that if the EC can go the extra mile for people who are living very far and it becomes necessary that the EC must create a certain enabling environment so that they can go to the headquarters of the electoral commission in that district to go and register, we are ready to do that.”
“There are agencies we can team up with, we made all these things known to them that the commission can never disenfranchise anyone. We did acknowledge that, in some district headquarters it will take about 40 miles to get there. These are things the Commission can easily work with the parties, civil society organization to be able to ensure that, all these people are able to register”, he added.
The NDC’s arguments
Addressing the media last week, the General Secretary of the party, Johnson Asiedu Nketia said the NDC “differed very strongly” on the matter and is “opposed to any system of registration that will be limited to the district offices of the EC.”
Deputy General Secretary of the party, Peter Otokunor, in a Citi News interview said Madam Jean Mensah told the NDC officials at the IPAC meeting that she owed them no explanation over the EC’s approach to the exercise and found it disrespectful that Asiedu Nketiah let out laughter while she spoke.
He insisted that a lot of Ghanaians will be disenfranchised if the limited registration exercise is held at the district level.
“The argument we have made is that, it would be a tool to disenfranchise the ordinary citizens who have an inalienable right under the laws of the country to exercise their franchise as citizens of this country. When you look at the trials they did last year with the referendum, they did the registration in 47 districts, they estimated 100,00 eligible voters but only 47,000 were recorded. That tells you clearly that a lot more of the people who could have registered did not register,” he said.
Asiedu Nketia at the press conference last week stated that “The parties never agreed with the Electoral Commission [at an IPAC meeting] to limit the limited registration [exercise] to only district centres of the commission.”
The party insists that the EC must stick to the decentralisation of the exercise up to the electoral area levels instead of the 260 districts offices.
In addition, he said, “evidence available shows that it is a system that will end up disenfranchising many qualified potential voters.”
Mr. Aseidu Nketia also raised concerns about the possible lack of resources at some of the newly created districts.