The voter' register dilemma

Voters Register Awutu File photo

Thu, 4 Jun 2020 Source: Theodore Dzeble

“Clearly, the NPP still discredits the Voter’s Register, irrespective of the fact that it was the vehicle for the party’s return to power in 2016. Probably, the party’s electoral palpitations and sleepless nights about the register emanate from inaccuracies in the register that it believes to be advantageous to the NDC.”

So the NPP won the 2016 elections hands down, battering the NDC in broad daylight by over a million votes! And mind you, it was a one touch victory for the NPP, so comprehensively won there was no need for a second round of voting, which had become synonymous with Ghana’s presidential elections in recent years.

It was the first time a sitting president had failed to win a second term in the Fourth Republic and it was veritably unprecedented. But the embarrassing defeat was not only confined to the presidential elections. The parliamentary elections was even more catastrophic for the NDC, as its majoritarian dominance in the Legislature was overturned by the NPP who captured almost a third of the seats (169 to the NDC’s 106).

The victory was a sweet revenge for the NPP, coming on the heels of the 2012 disappointing campaign of then candidate Akufo-Addo, which nearly consigned him to political irrelevance, after suffering successive defeats to former Presidents John Evans Atta-Mills and John Mahama in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

After resurrecting his political fortunes miraculously through the Presidential Election Petition of 2012, and putting up an abrasive electioneering campaign which wrestled power from the shell-shocked NDC in 2016 (even with a Voters’ Register that the party had ravaged, lampooned and excessively desecrated, why is the party so obsessed with compiling a new register at all costs, and discarding the reliable compendium that won it the Jubilee House? Is the NPP provoking the ire of peace-loving floating voters, who are technically the kingmakers of Ghana’s elections?

Clearly, the NPP still discredits the Voters’ Register, irrespective of the fact that it was the vehicle for the party’s return to power. Probably, the party’s electoral palpitations and sleepless nights about the register emanate from inaccuracies that in the party’s calculations are advantageous to the NDC.

Granted that the register is over-bloated (for no register is without defects) this country has a tradition of removing dead people from the register, and validating the living as truly living! Measures exist by which newly qualified voters are added to the register in the full glare of community members and party activists. All these could have been achieved with diligence at a little cost to the taxpayer and yet accomplish the same purpose of ridding the voter of filth!

Should the NPP succeed in replacing the register irrespective of the high cost of the exercise, rising political tension, COVID-19 sensitivities, civil society outcry and a tight election timetable (in a rainy season) could all combine to make the party, particularly the EC unpopular. Furthermore, this could create opportunity for a feisty disputation of the election outcomes, or even legalize the outlandish tradition for political parties to create newer versions of the Voters’ Register upon winning an election.

To many people, the independence of the Electoral Commissioned appears to have been compromised by the replacement of the former EC boss, her constitutional iniquities notwithstanding. Her distasteful constitutional removal could be the beginning of a new culture of weakening and bastardising the Electoral Commission by politicians eager to sacrifice the demise of EC’s original autonomy for political gain.

The NPP’s best bet for winning the 2020 elections is delivering on the party’s manifesto promises. A new register by itself could be unreliable if the performance is unsatisfactory. But no blushes…the battle is still the Lord’s! PS: By the way, nobody in my household owns a Ghana Card yet. I hope there is ample time to own one before our disenfranchisement is complete.

Columnist: Theodore Dzeble