Over Supreme Court Decision On NHIS Cards
The mischief embarked upon by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to discredit the Electoral Commission (EC), has backfired in the party’s stronghold of Ashanti Region, with many people disenfranchised from voting in the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections by the Supreme Court decision in the Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako case, against the electoral body.
The Herald information is that, thousands of voters in the Ashanti Region, who got onto the electoral roll using the NHIS card ahead of the 2012 polls, have their names deleted from the voters’ register, therefore, would not be able to vote in the upcoming elections.
Before this, many had argued that the NHIS Card registrants, must be maintained and allowed to vote in the 2016, but prevented from using the health insurance in future registration exercises, but the NPP using Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako as proxies acting through their lawyer; Nana Bediatuo Asante, rejected the proposal
But the relaxation of this, has now forced the NPP, to called on the EC to extend the period of re-registration of persons whose names, have been deleted from the voters’ register, because they used NHIS cards to register.
The EC has revealed that only 14,801 persons of the 56,000, whose names were deleted from the voters’ register, have re-registered in the ongoing voters’ register exhibition exercise. The NPP, has blamed the low turnout partly blamed on the supposed poor publicity of the re-registration exercise.
Addressing the press last week, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NPP, Sam Pyne, expressed fears that this would leave a significant number of people disenfranchised by the time the 10-day period is over.
He complained that “the EC never came out to give education on the time frame because when they announced that they were going to do the exhibition, they said 21 days.”
Mr. Pyne feels this has contributed to the low re-registration rate since the exercise commenced.
“A lot of people thought that even if you were going to re-register, it is going to be within the 21 days therefore a lot of people have slowed down in even going to do the registration, meanwhile they are doing it to for 10-days, and this is the eighth day.”
These are the concerns for which Mr. Pyne relayed the concern of the NPP saying “We as a political party are calling on the Electoral Commission to extend the registration period for the re-registration, so those affected can get their names back on the register.”
He also indicated that the party would be satisfied with the re-registration process running concurrently with the 21-day exhibition process.
The Head of Communications at the EC, Eric Dzakpasu, had publicly expressed fears that most of the deleted NHIS Card registrants could be disenfranchised if the situation does not improve.
As at last week Monday, and two days to go, “out of the 56,762 names deleted, only 14,801 had re-registered,” Mr. Dzakpasu revealed.
He lamented that, “the people are not coming. We are expecting them to come in their numbers so that we can get most of them registered so that they can vote, but they are not coming as we expect them to come.”
Meanwhile, NPP has expressed its unhappiness with the EC intention to electronically transmit election results during the December 7 polls.
The party believes the electronic mode of transmission failed in other countries including Kenya, Ecuador and Mexico, hence should not be adopted in Ghana.
According to the party’s 2016 Campaign Manager, Peter Mac Manu, the e-transmission process fails to address the critical challenges that the reform process seeks to overcome. He further argued that there is no law which gives the EC power to electronically transfer results.
“The E-transmission of results does not in anyway control the abuse of the electoral process. It does not address foreign ballots and it is an after the fact process. If there are only 800 voters on the register how will the system prevent transmission of results cast in excess of that number?
If the EC was really serious about transmission of results, it should have backed that with legislation. No constitutional instrument supports this radical shift. There is no law which gives EC the mandate to electronically transmit results. Nothing in the law before Parliament makes mention of it.”
According to him, the law rather talks about the “EC receiving all the collated results from the statement of poll and declaration of results and pink sheets signed by party agents at the constituency level and the expectation is that they will be brought to the national collation centre before the winner of the presidential race will be declared.”
Mr. Mac Manu suggested that the “focus of the EC should rather be on ensuring that a certified copy of the pink sheet from each of the 29,000 polling stations is brought to the national collation centre before the Chairperson of the EC finally declares the winner.”
But EC has explained that its decision to put in place an Electronic Results Transmission System (ERTS) for the 2016 elections was endorsed by the NPP.
In a response to the NPP’s unhappy posture over the EC’s plan to electronically transmit election results, the Commission indicated in a statement, that the NPP at no point challenged the ERTS reform at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) level.
In statement, which was signed by the EC’s Communications Director, Eric Dzakpasu indicated that “the Electoral Commission only accepted to implement a proposal and decision which was taken by the Committee and collectively accepted by all the political parties at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) level.”
The statement recalled that Mr. MacManu, who was present at pertinent meetings, “had ample opportunity to raise the issue of the inclusion of the ERTS in the law either at IPAC, or the Legal Committee of IPAC where the law was drafted; or even before the subsidiary legislation committee of Parliament.”
The EC also pointed out that “Mr. MacManu was a member of the Legal Committee of IPAC and was intimately and significantly involved in the drafting of the two important regulations C.I.91 and C.I.94 (which regulate registration of voters and the elections).”
Find below a section of the EC statement EC CLARIFIES ELECTRONIC RESULTS TRANSMISSION AND CONTRACTUAL PROCESS As obvious from the above extract from the Committee’s recommendations, the Electoral Commission only accepted to implement a proposal and decision which was taken by the Committee and collectively accepted by all the political parties at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) level.
The Commission holds the view that the basis for the recommendation of the ERTS by the Reform Committee was valid and deepens the integrity and transparency of the election results collation process. At an IPAC meeting held on 12th June 2015, the Commission adequately briefed the political parties on all the reforms as proposed and subsequently accepted by the Commission.
On 18th March, 2016, Mr. Peter MacManu recognized that IPAC was the appropriate forum at which such issues should be discussed and requested the Commission to brief the political parties on the tender process. The Commission is of the view that any concerns regarding the implementation of this proposal, should again be brought to the IPAC, where they were conceived for implementation by the Commission.
The Commission has taken note of Mr. MacManu’s public comments about the agreed results transmission process, especially the legality of the said system. We however wish to point out that Mr. MacManu was a member of the Legal Committee of IPAC and was intimately and significantly involved in the drafting of the two important regulations C.I.91 and C.I.94 (which regulate registration of voters and the elections).
Mr. MacManu also appeared before the parliamentary committee for Subsidiary Legislation chaired by Hon. Osei Bonsu Amoah. The latter is also a regular representative of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at IPAC.
In the view of the Commission, Mr. MacManu had ample opportunity to raise the issue of the inclusion of the ERTS in the law either at IPAC, or the Legal Committee of IPAC where the law was drafted; or even before the subsidiary legislation committee of Parliament.
As a matter of fact, the results transmitted through the ERTS would remain provisional and since they do not replace the manual results process captured in the Law, in the view of the EC, the legal Electoral Commission P. O. Box M.214 Accra. committee of IPAC, and IPAC, there was no need to capture the process in the law.
Additionally under the new C.I. to regulate elections, all political parties and candidates are entitled to have counting agents present during the counting and collation of results.
The Commission would also want to emphasize that the ERTS does not replace the manual collation process which requires agents of political parties to attest to the accuracy of results before declaration by presiding officers.
As explained at IPAC, in the event of a discrepancy between results from the ERTS and the manual results, the manual results would take precedence.
This makes it impossible for anyone to attempt to alter declared results in the transmission process. It is the expectation of the Electoral Commission that all political party representatives on Committees (collectively set up by IPAC) will raise any concerns they may have about any reforms or the electoral process at IPAC to be discussed and addressed collectively.
Signed: ERIC KOFI DZAKPASU Head of Communications.