The Electoral Commission (EC) has been urged to rescind it’s decision to conduct the Limited Voter Registration at its district offices alone.
A “non partisan” group of Assembly members, Coalition of Progressive Assembly Members (COPAM) who believe the EC’s decision as a “voter suppressive action” when it goes on with the exercise has asked the EC to make public the reason behind its “repressive” stance.
COPAM said the EC’s intended action has “proven beyond reasonable doubts that it does not place any serious premium on the upcoming District Level Elections and the Referendum on the elections of MMDCEs on partisan basis.”
Delivering a speech in Accra on Friday May 31,2019, COPAM organiser Hon. Ibrahim Faila who is also the immediate past Presiding Member (PM) for the La Nkwantanng-Madina Municipal Assembly noted that the group was gearing up to stop the EC from going ahead with the exercise at its district offices.
He said Regulation 2 Sub-regulation 2(a) and (b) of C.I. 91 which is Public Elections Regulations requires that in “designating a place as a registration centre, the EC must consider the suitability of the place for use as a polling centre on election day and the accessibility of the place to prospective applicants seeking to register”.
The group went ahead to advise the EC to carry out the Limited Registration Exercise in all 6,500 Electoral Areas across the country.
Below is the statement.
COALITION OF PROGRESSIVE ASSEMBLY MEMBERS (COPAM)
O BOX 234, ACCRA
ATTEMPTED SUPPRESSION OF VOTES BY THE EC THROUGH LIMITED REGISTRATION EXERCISE HIGHLY UNACCEPTABLE – COPAM
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media.
The Coalition of Progressive Assembly Members (COPAM) is a nonpartisan Association of Progressive minded Assembly Members across the country. We are very much committed to the safeguarding and promotion of good governance at the local level.
It is therefore against this background that we wish to express our deepest concern and utter disappointment at the attempt by the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) to suppress the votes of eligible voters seeking to participate in the upcoming District Level Elections. This COPAM believes will certainly be the case, if the EC is allowed to embark on its intended Limited Registration Exercise at their District Offices and selected Electoral Areas as a prelude to the conduct of the upcoming District Level Elections and Referendum.
COPAM therefore considers this attempted illegal act about to be perpetuated by the EC to be very repressive, suppressive of eligible votes and more importantly an affront to local governance practice in this country. The EC by its intended action has proven beyond reasonable doubts that it does not place any serious premium on the upcoming District Level Elections and the Referendum on the elections of MMDCEs on partisan basis.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, it is a known and an incontrovertible fact that over the years the EC has always conducted voter registration, including limited voter registration exercises, at Electoral Areas in the various constituencies and districts of the country. This historical practice has now been grounded in law in the form of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (C.I. 91).
Regulation 2 Sub-regulation 2(a) and (b) of C.I. 91 requires that in “designating a place as a registration centre, the EC must consider the suitability of the place for use as a polling centre on election day and the accessibility of the place to prospective applicants seeking to register”. The most important reason why the Limited Registration Exercise should be conducted in all 6,500 Electoral Areas across the country.
The current stance or position of the EC will mean that, for eligible citizens residing in remote or rural communities of the country, they will have to travel to and from district capitals which, in most cases, are located far from rural dwellings. It is therefore obvious that eligible citizens are going to be subjected to unacceptably long distance travels and extremely inconveniencing situations (considering the fact that the exercise is going to be conducted in the rainy season).
It is for this reason that COPAM is impressing on the EC not to go ahead with the exercise restricted to its District Offices and selected Electoral Areas but rather conduct it in All Electoral Areas as has been the common practice over the years.
Ladies and gentlemen may I at this point show you some empirical evidence to support COPAM’s apprehensions (refer to PowerPoint Presentation).
Ladies and Gentlemen, since the conduct of the Population and Housing Census in 2010, Ghana’s population has grown exponentially from twenty-four million six hundred and fifty-eight thousand eight hundred and twenty-three (24,658,823) to an estimated population of thirty million seven hundred and ninety-five thousand four hundred and ninety-one (30,795,491).
Data also available from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) shows that the number of citizens who turned 18 years and above between 2017 and 2019 is 1,752,413.
On the back of the 2010 Population and Housing Census, ladies and gentlemen, the EC undertook the compilation of the Biometric Voters’ Register on the basis of polling stations in the various electoral areas of the country, spending at least five (5) days in each polling station. This exercise in the end recorded a total of fourteen million three hundred and twenty-two thousand four hundred and thirty-four (14,322,434) voters at the time.
Ladies and gentlemen, prior to the 2014 District Assembly Elections (which was later held in 2015), the EC again conducted a limited voter registration exercise in all Electoral Areas across the country. Also, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, the EC once again conducted another limited voter registration exercise using the electoral area-based registration model.
So what then has changed now? For the EC to want to carry out this all important exercise only restricted to its District offices and selected Electoral Areas. Ghanaians deserve to know.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is also a known fact that the EC did not undertake any voter registration exercise in 2017. However, in 2018 the EC, in its budget estimates presented to the Special Budget Committee of Parliament, projected to register about one million two hundred thousand (1,200,000) voters using electoral area-based registration model due to the fact that, in 2017, the EC was unable to undertake any voter registration exercise.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is worthy to note that the EC, upon the approval of its budget by Parliament’s Special Budget Committee, instead of going ahead to register eligible voters across the country as it has always done based on electoral areas, rather chose to adopt a district-based online registration model using only the Voter Management Systems (VMS) at its district offices. This exercise once again was also limited to only the forty-seven (47) Districts where the 2018 referendum took place. By this approach, the EC excluded eligible voters in the remaining 184 districts who did not take part in the 2018 referendum from the limited voter registration exercise (refer to PowerPoint Presentation)
In the view of COPAM, the EC does not have any justifiable basis for its decision to conduct the voter registration in 2019 Fiscal Year using the same approach as it did in 2018 because evidence abound that adequate budgetary resources have been made available to the EC for the conduct of the limited voter registration exercise on Electoral Area basis across the country.
In consequence thereof, COPAM is of the firm belief that the EC has no reasonable justification to limit the upcoming voter registration exercise only to its 231 district offices and selected Electoral Areas, as this approach will no doubt result in substantial suppression of votes for eligible voters to fully participate in the upcoming District Level Elections and the Referendum.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, COPAM has equally taken note of the inclusion of selected Electoral Areas to the 231 District offices.
The question therefore begging of an answer from the EC is:
What criterion was used by the EC to arrive at those selected Electoral Areas?
We further demand from the EC to make public to the Political Parties and indeed all relevant stakeholders in Local Governance practice the criterion or criteria used to do the selection.
COPAM finally wishes to impress on the EC to as a matter of urgency discard its decision to conduct the Limited Voter Registration Exercise at its District Offices and the ‘selected Electoral Areas’ and instead conduct the exercise in all Electoral Areas across the country.
COPAM is already in touch with our Solicitors to possibly consider invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on this obvious illegality being or about to be perpetuated by the EC. We are also ready and willing to join forces with any progressive minded stakeholders in pursuing this matter to its logical conclusion, all in our bid to stop the EC from going ahead with this obvious repressive and voter suppressive action to be undertaken from 7th – 27th June, 2019.
Long Live Local Governance
Long Live COPAM
Long Live Ghana
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