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Ghana’s new voters register

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 Source: Charles Dery

The decision to have a new voter register has brought a lot of controversies in the country. Well! One won't be able to know the exact reasons that are behave the individual opposition and support whether a new register is necessary.

Since 2019 when the Electoral Commission of Ghana, EC told the good of people of her decision to compile a new voter register, we have seen a great division in our political line as to whether it is prudent to have a new voter register or not.

I am certain that when it comes to elections in any contest, individuals and political parties are always mindful of the electoral process from the beginning to the end. And so I am not surprised that these complaints from interested parties are coming out. Where there is disagreement and the deliberations are widened to get the best results.

Democracy is better understood when opposition and minority are heard in the discourse of a national policy. The ability to make your case when giving the opportunity calls for a celebration in a democratic dispensation.

Let me be quick to look into the matter at hand.

The electoral commission is of the view that the current voter register is bloated and therefore, it is not fit for this election and future elections. The EC aimed to ensure that our free, fair and credible election now and forever are upheld. Is the EC reasons acceptable? I do not want to go into the legal mandate of the commission because the law is flexible. Any lawyer can interpret it to suit his or her case.

Also, I am not a lawyer as well. However, I will say that a free, fair and credible election is felt by individuals who are contesting the election. And under no circumstances, do we see and hear losers in elections say 'the election is free, fair and credible'.

It should be clear to the EC that no matter what measures they put in place as an independent body to ensure the basic principles that established it, are obtained, losers will be aggrieved.

This is natural justice! notwithstanding that, the EC should ensure that views from interested parties are well scrutinized and incorporated into their plans to ensure that Ghana continues to enjoy her peace after the election.

You will agree with me that people with the same opinion have different individual thoughts. We all agree to have an election this year as enshrined in our constitution until this novel virus, Covid 19 came.

Indeed!this pandemic has brought a lot of difficulties for us, as followers and leaders. May God save our lives! As I said earlier of the EC decision, some political parties, individuals and organisations opposed the decision to have a new voter register. I am going to look at the views of the opposition and reason, since opposing views are always critical to decision making.

The opposition parties, organizations and interested individuals are of the views that,the current register is credible and therefore, it will achieve its principles of free, fair and credible election.

This notion has arrived on the basis that the EC used it to conduct the 2019 district assembly election and 2016 general election. They further believe that this new voter register will disenfranchise about a million citizens of this country.

Moreover, it will also cost the country huge money to have a new register considering the limited resources we have. Now, the latest reason is people will risk their lives to register in the midst of the virus.

Not only did they state reasons for their opposition, but also suggested ways to achieve credible election. Some of the suggestions are, the EC should migrate the data from the old system into the new system so that people who are ready will not register again. Also, the EC should do a limited registration exercise instead of the mass registration amidst the Covid 19.

Importantly, the opposition parties and interested individuals are making their case through petitions and demonstrations. This is laudable!

Personally, I am impressed that we are deepening our democracy through our opposition and support of decisions leaders make.

However, my concern is, must our individual wish come by all means? Why must you think that your objection to the leadership decision be adhered? Why do you also think that no one can oppose your decision?

Anyway! My take on the matter is very simple.whose life is more important than the other?

We don't want mass registration amidst this novel virus but we want limited registration, right? Whose death is more painful than the other? Have the health workers said the virus does not spread in the midst of few people? I thought people's lives were precious to us, especially politicians during this pandemic until things prove my wrong.

I hear people say, we can't risk our lives by queuing to register yet the same people are calling for limited registration. Well!, I won't know if the fly to register when it's limited registration.

Until we are truthful to ourselves and followers, things will always be difficult to hide. Indeed, I agree that as a country the spread of the virus should be reduced and therefore, any measures anyone calls for in order to reduce this spread, I support it. However, don't hide your real intention!

Let me support my case with these analyses.

I have never seen or heard any petition or demonstration to tell the government that our marketplaces should be closed after the government opens them. Those who want us to believe that the lives of the people are important to them genuinely, should have petitioned government, opinion leaders to close down markets since there is a crowd in our markets.

Or they think the virus does not spread through our marketplaces? A lot of people are in the market places doing business without observing social distance as protocol yet people are quiet about it.

Everyday, we go to market places,moving from one market to another yet that won't spread the virus, right? Since those people who have not seen the importance of our lives in the market places, should not see the importance of our lives during registration exercise. How long will the mass registration exercise take as compared to the time spent in our various marketplaces?

Again, if your argument is to protect people's lives then I expect you to say no to either mass registration or limited registration. In the event of either, people's lives are at risk. People should demonstrate beyond balance of probability that their protection against mass registration is devoid of personal interest.

You do encourage people to go to register when it is limited registration and discourage them to register when it is mass registration because the latter will endanger their lives. Ghana politicians must be serious!

They say again that about millions of people will be disenfranchised, is the EC preventing people from registering? It is true that the constitution allows us as citizens to register and vote but the constitution did not state the number of voters to vote.

It is not a requirement that EC should have a number of people in the register before they can conduct elections. Everyone is free to go and register but if you willingly refuse to register as the constitution gives you freedom of decision, EC should not be blamed.

We have the right to register as voters and we have the responsibility to avail ourselves to be registered. I guess the Constitution doesn't say citizens and enjoy their rights. It is your responsibility as a good citizen to take part in national exercise as enshrined in our constitution.

Anyway, is there a research to support the view that since 1992, citizens have not been disenfranchised because of electoral processes and requirements? Until further and better particulars are proving, the view is of no effect.

I agree that we have limited resources in this country and we must use the available one judiciously.

However, the way to manage our resources is not to use it. That will be unproductive and suicidal! The way is to ensure proper accountability and transparency which will eventually promote efficiency and effectiveness.

Individuals, organizations etc invest money in financial institutions and other ventures with limited resources they have. Anything that is precious is very costly. To have a better future, you invest now, you invest when you start to get money, you invest when you are young. No successful entrepreneur or business person says let me do investment when I have enough money.

It will never come! If the argument of huge cost is to hold, it is our duty as citizens through the MPs to scrutinize the cost well and try to reduce expenditure rather than saying we do not want it.

Now, the credibility of something to me doesn't depend on it's past usage but rather its current stage.

I guess we throw away food and it goes bad the following day. You eat it the day it is cooked as good food but the next day, your eating depends on whether it is still good or not. You don't consider yesterday's taste and eat but it's currant taste.

Therefore, if the register was used in past elections doesn't mean it may not have challenges. The best way to do so is to come together, identify possible challenges and look for remedies to those challenges rather than to say entirely that it is credible because it was used in the past.

To conclude, the current circumstances are surrounded by new voter registration exercises and so, until they say NO to both limited registration and mass registration, even possibly, the general election, the lives of the people are not paramount important to anyone.

They should not use the risk of lives of people to protect their personal interest when they are not petitioning and organizing demonstrations that our people are in the markets everyday and so the government should close down markets to save money.

Show a sense of objectivity and honesty and we shall support since this virus does not respect anyone.

Thank you!

Long live Ghana!!

Columnist: Charles Dery