The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to suspend the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise until all the necessary stakeholder consultations have been made.
According to the party, the exercise is in breach of the regulations governing electoral processes in the country.
In a statement signed by its general secretary Kwabena Agyepong Monday the NPP said the EC must engage the various political parties before proceeding with the exercise.
Below are details of the statement
The New Patriotic Party has noted, with great concern, the Statement by the Electoral Commission on the commencement of a continuous registration of Voters at its District Offices. The Statement lists the following documents as evidence of identification:
a) a Ghanaian Passport
b) a Driver’s Licence
c) National Identification Card, and
d) An old Voter ID Card
Regrettably, the Commission did not deem it fit to consult other Stakeholders on the intended exercise. Despite calls for an IPAC Meeting, this has not taken place and the Commission has just sprung the exercise on Ghanaians, without prior notice.
Rather sad to relate, Modalities for the exercise have also not been laid out. Details of how one can challenge ineligible registrants and raise objections to names put on the register have not been spelt out. Furthermore, how Political Parties can monitor the exercise and certify details of the registration have not been determined.
In coming out with the announcement, it is obvious that the Commission did not take distances to its District Offices into consideration. In many cases, potential registrants will have to travel over long distances to get to the EC District Office. This, surely, will serve as a disincentive to potential registrants.
Regulation 1.(1) of the Public Elections Regulation 2012 (C.I. 72) states that a Person is entitled to have his/her name included in the register of Voters of an Electoral Area if that person is:
a) a citizen of Ghana;
b) 18 years old and above;
c) of a sound mind;
d) resident or ordinarily resident in an Electoral Area;
e) not prohibited by any law in force from registering as a voter.
Registration must, therefore, be done on Electoral Area basis. That way, potential voters will find it easier to register while it would also be easier to determine the number of persons registered in every electoral area.
It cannot be understood why the Commission continues to act against the laws governing its conduct of electoral affairs.
Under Regulation 2 (3) of C.I. 72, “the Commission shall, at least 14 days before the first day of the national registration of voters, inform Political Parties and the general public by publication in the Gazette, Radio, Television, or any other medium of mass communication, of a place it designates as a registration centre.” The Commission has not done this.
Regulation 8 (1) of C.I. 72 states that “the Commission shall make available to the interested persons or parties at the District Office, the names of persons it proposes to appoint as Registration Supervisors, Registration Officers and Registration Assistants for the Centres, not later than 14 days before they are appointed.” The Commission has also not taken the appropriate steps under this Regulation.
Under Regulation 10 (3) of C.I. 72, “the names of Agents of Registered Political Parties shall be communicated to the Commission not later than 7 days before the start of the registration.” Political Parties have not submitted names of Agents because the Commission has kept everybody in the dark and is determined to do things its own way, regardless of what the Regulations spell out.
Sight must also not be lost on the various calls on the Commission to open a new Voters Register to replace the over-bloated and unreliable Register that is currently in place. Conducting the intended registration and, later on, creating a new Register will result in a complete waste of scarce financial resources.
The Commission need not be reminded that it has a duty to work in the best interest of ALL GHANAIANS and must avoid doing things that might create unnecessary tension in the country. It is obvious that the Commission is refusing to learn from its mistakes and wants to continue acting against the law. A clear example is the cancellation of the District Level Elections, as ordered by the Court, following its disregard of the law.
In the circumstances, the New Patriotic Party calls on the Electoral Commission to suspend the intended exercise and properly plan any new registration in consultation with its Stakeholders. To that end, we call on the Commission to convene an IPAC Meeting, without delay.
KWABENA AGYEI AGYEPONG