Politics

EC begins limited voter registration today – Despite court injunction

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The Electoral Commission (EC) is set to begin the Limited Voter Registration exercise at its district offices across the country today in spite of a pending interlocutory injunction filed at the Supreme Court by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and four other minority parties.

The 21-day exercise is scheduled to end on October 2. It will start from 8a.m. to 5p.m. each day, including weekends.

Target

The EC has targeted to register at least 1,350,000 persons in the 2023 Voters Registration exercise based on its projection that such a number might have attained 18 years since the last registration exercise in 2020.

A Deputy Commissioner of the EC in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Bossman Eric Asare, told the Daily Graphic that since the exercise had not taken place over the last three years for persons who have turned 18 years and above, “we expect the numbers to be huge in the opening few days and hopefully after a week it will normalise.”

He said the commission expected to register an average of 300 people daily in all its district offices, urging Ghanaians to take advantage of the programme to exercise their civic responsibility.

“Don’t forget, this is not the first time we are doing this; it happened in 2016, 2019, 2020 and even in 1996.

We have taken into account the concerns of the disability group and those who will travel long distances for them to be taken care of first,” Dr Asare said.

Dr Asare stressed that the main documents for the registration are the Ghana Card or the Ghanaian Passport.

He said in the absence of these, two individuals, who have already registered, could vouch for such persons as guarantors.

He gave an assurance that the EC would monitor and take a post-registration action in order not to disenfranchise any eligible Ghanaian.

Registration will be done online using the District Management System (DMS), as well as offline by way of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kit.

Copies of daily reports of the registration exercise from the beginning to the end will be given to political party representatives at the various registration centres, while each political party will be allowed to present one representative to observe the exercise.

Supreme Court application

Meanwhile, the five political parties had earlier filed an application for interlocutory injunction at the Supreme Court to restrain the EC from proceeding with the limited voter registration exercise, pending the determination of the substantive matter.

The parties: the NDC, Convention People’s Party (CPP), All People’s Congress (APC), Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) and the Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP) were of the view that limiting the exercise to the EC’s district offices would not be suitable and accessible to every Ghanaian who is desirous of exercising his or her constitutional right to be registered as a voter.

As part of their reliefs, the parties asked the Supreme Court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of Articles 42 and 45 (a) and (e) of the 1992 Constitution and Regulation 2 sub-regulation 2(a) and (b) and Regulation 30(1) of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations 2016 – (C.I. 91) (as amended by C.I. 126), the EC shall designate registration centres that are suitable and accessible to every eligible Ghanaian who is desirous of exercising his or her constitutional right to be registered as a voter.

They also asked the Court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of the above provisions, the EC’s decision to undertake the limited voter registration at its district offices would result in voter suppression, hence it was unconstitutional since it would violate first-time voters’ right to vote.

GFD appeal

In a related development, the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations (GFD) has appealed to the EC to put in place measures to make the limited voters’ registration process more inclusive for persons with disability (PWD), reports Dickson Worlanyo Dotse.

It said the current process was fraught with challenges that could potentially disenfranchise PWDs in many ways.

The federation said the EC’s decision to conduct the registration exercise solely at its district offices across the country had the likelihood of excluding many PWDs from participating in the exercise due to the challenges, including accessibility and proximity to various registration centres and communication.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Executive Director of the Ghana Blind Union (GBU), Dr Peter Obeng Asamoah, who spoke on behalf of the GFD, said most of the commission’s district offices were not disability-friendly, making it difficult or impossible to reach them.

“Even though there may be some intentions to hold them at the ground floors, the presence of steps and maybe gutters could present barriers to our members in wheelchairs or those with callipers, thereby denying them of their constitutional rights,” he said.

Dr Asamoah also stated that due to the EC’s decision, members who did not reside close to the district offices could potentially be left out of the registration process and be ultimately denied the right to participate in the elections.

He explained that many PWDs were unemployed and as a result might not be able to afford the cost of transporting themselves and their assistants or their assistive mobile devices such as wheelchairs all the way from their immediate communities to the EC offices.

“So for example, if you’re a blind person you’re going to have to pay double transportation because of your assistant and if you’re physically disabled, you’ll pay for your wheelchair too.

“Yet, a recent study has shown that some drivers are unwilling to transport wheelchairs because they take up too much space,” Dr Asamoah lamented.

The GFD, therefore, urged the EC to decentralise the process and use a community-based approach to ensure that all interested PWDs are able to participate in the process and exercise their franchise.

Communication

It also urged the EC to include sign language interpreters in the dissemination of information concerning the entire process, as well as during the registration process so that persons who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind could communicate effectively with officials and receive proper assistance during the exercise.

“Initial awareness videos shown on television about the exercise did not have sign language interpretation to target the deaf community.

This means that they even watch the adverts and will not know what is happening,” Dr Asamoah stressed.

He also called on the EC to work hand in hand with the organisations of persons with disability to provide technical support and advice for effective inclusion of all persons with disability in the registration exercise.

Daniel Kenu

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