A five-member panel set by the Electoral Commission (EC) to look into concerns over the credibility of the voters register will meet with the Commission on Monday to discuss work done so far.
The Electoral Commission will have the final say on the need for a new register or otherwise.
After some partisan pressure led by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Electoral Commission announced the setting up of the five-man panel on 23 October 2015 to hold a two-day public hearing on the controversial Voters’ Register.
His Lordship Professor V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe chaired the committee that also included the Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante; Dr. Grace Bediako, Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor; and Maulvi Bin Salih.
The credibility of the voters’ register was pushed into the forefront of national political discussions by the NPP aided by pro-NPP pressure group Let My Vote Count Alliance.
They alleged that the current voter’s register is compromised and submitted its evidence which showed at least 76,000 foreign nationals are on the register.
The NPP maintained the voters’ register is unfit for next year’s elections.
All the participants – mostly political parties and civil society groups- who presented position papers admitted that the current register has problems that ought to be addressed; it is the mode of solving the problems that have attracted divergent views.
The NPP position
Led by the former National Chairman Peter Mac Manu, the lead complainant, NPP categorized the challenges with the register under three themes: Statistical defects, constitutional defects and technical defect. For the NPP, the voters register is “incurably flawed”, he says.
He observed that with no significant economic activities in some electoral areas, the voter’s register went up by 42% in Hohoe North in the Volta region, 52% in Nkwanta North, 48% in Adenta and 26.7% in Nzema East.
The NDC position
But the governing National Democratic Congress rejected the NPP’s call. The party said it would warm up to the alternative of auditing the register and not replacing it.
General Secretary Asiedu Nketia suggested that a new register could worsen the problem because it could invite new set of minors and therefore worsen the problem.
The NPP claim that there are minors on the electoral roll cannot be taken seriously because if somebody was a minor in the last election, the person could be eligible now, Asiedu Nketia maintained.
He said Ghana is having problems because of the absence of data on birth and death and difficulties in identifying who is a Ghanaian.
The CPP position
Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) blamed the NDC and NPP for failing to do a proper National Identification Exercise as has been done in the Ivory Coast. He says in Germany it is not possible to move from House A to House B without de-registering his former residence.
The party believes the National Identification Card could solve the controversy over the rolls’ credibility.
The PPP position
Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) believes the problem about credibility is actually a problem of identifying who is a Ghanaian and of voting age.
The party’s General Secretary said the Voter’s ID card or a Driver’s license cannot determine citizenship. It is only a National I.D card that can determine this, Kofi Siaw maintained.
“We want to put the National Identification Authority at the center of this debate”, he said adding a committed government could get the exercise done in three months.
The Electoral Commission
Electoral Commissioner Charlotte Osei during the forum, blamed political parties for the problem of ineligible voters on the register.
She noted instances where minors are lured by political parties to register as well as dishonest parents who are enticed by political parties to get their wards registered. Some parents also register kids purely based on ignorance while some do not know the age of their children, she said.
She revealed that about 8,000 voters were identified as 18-year-old at one registration exercise and some years after, they still claimed they were still 18 years.