Politics

Limited voters’ registration: Those in hard-to-reach areas can wait for next year – Dr. Serebour Quaicoe

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The Electoral Commission has explained that eligible voters who are unable to register in the Commission’s district offices nationwide would have to do so next year.

The Commission’s Director of Electoral Services, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, who said this on Asempa FM’s Ekosiisen on Monday, September 19, noted that from next year, the EC will have special arrangements for hard-to-reach areas once it receives the legal backing of parliament for its Constitutional Instrument, C.I.

According to him, the Commission will also carry out a continuous registration process in its offices that will serve would-be voters at any given time.

“For those in hard-to-reach areas, we are only appealing to them to find a way to get to the district offices for the registration. Otherwise, they would have to wait for next year. But even next year, we can’t be everywhere. It will depend on situations on the ground in terms of figures. Because we won’t say that, because we have to serve hard-to-reach areas, we will send our tools to just three people in a particular area.”

“So, we will work with the stakeholders to be sure that a place is indeed hard-to-reach, and that we have people there before we move. That will be a form of mopping because we are still going to maintain the district office registration and there will be continuous registration “he noted.

For instance, the MP for Wa East, Dr Godfred Seidu Jasaw, has asked the EC to set up a new registration centre for the Wa East District for the registration exercise.

“The situation we find ourselves in is a big constraint to us in accessibility and also for the exercise of registering new voters. The Wa East case is a unique one and the capital is in Funsi. Accessing Funsi is a very difficult situation and the road to the place has been cut off by the rivers, so that is our challenge now” he told Joy News.

“So the choice of district capital for this registration is a huge constraint. So I would like to call on the government and the EC to consider opening a new registration centre for the Wa East District otherwise most eligible voters cannot get the capital and register,” he said.

Despite a lawsuit by the majority of opposition parties challenging the EC’s decision not to hold the registration in electoral areas this year, the Commission is going ahead with the exercise.

Its Chairperson, Mrs Jean Mensa says Parliament is partly to blame for the Commission’s struggle to decentralise the registration process since it failed to pass the new Constitutional Instrument C.I it presented for approval.

Addressing concerns and criticisms associated with the registration exercise, Mrs Jean Mensa said the Commission has been left in a very difficult place.

“As you are all aware, the Commission prepared a draft C.I for continuous registration in all district offices nationwide. This initiative started last year and the registration we were envisioning under the draft C.I was on a sustained long-term basis.

“Indeed, had the C. I been passed we would have had some six months this year to register voters at any time of their choice. Our 2023 budget and work plan were prepared along those lines. Our 2023 work plan and budget were based on a continuous registration of voters in our district offices nationwide, we did not factor electoral area registration in our 2023 work plan and budget,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the EC says it has increased its registration stations in Tamale and will continue to do so in other places when the need arises.

The decision to increase the workstations in Tamale, according to Jean Mensa, is to ensure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised.

“We have increased the number of registration stations from 2 to 3 and in some cases 4. Faulty kits were also swiftly replaced with spares that were available in the region and so for instance the Tamale Metro office, we experienced issues with the kits sent there resulting in a registration of four voters only on day one. We quickly stepped in and replaced the faulty kits and the registration is going on there seamlessly. We have increased their registration stations from 2 to 4.:

“I share these examples to demonstrate that as a Commission we are on the ground and working around the clock to ensure that every eligible voter who is desirous to register as a voter does so with ease,” she added.

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