Pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), has declared support for the Electoral Commission (EC)’s decision to compile new voters register ahead of the 2020 general election.
Addressing a press conference in Kumasi, yesterday, Convener of the group, David Asante, eulogized the Jean Mensah led Commission for taking the initiative to conduct electoral reforms, this time, on its own.
He stated that it is significant to note that since the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1992, electoral reforms instituted by the EC have often, if not always, been at the behest of political parties, civil society organizations, pressure groups and even individuals. The transition from the use of opaque ballot boxes to transparent ballot boxes; the introduction of photo ID cards and the use of biometric data in registration are all reforms that were initiated by persons outside of the EC,” he said.
“However, today, the call for a new voters’ register emanates from the EC itself, the body mandated by Article 46 of the Constitution 1992 as the election management body of Ghana,” he added.
Mr. Asante indicated that the EC’s decision is in sync with the call by the LMVCA and its allies since 2015 adding that the group “appreciates the fact that the EC has not remained static but has heeded to the input of stakeholders and its own internal processes to evolve drastically to conform with modern trends and best practices in election management.”
“Much as we believe that demonstrations and civil protests are part of the democratic dispensation, we appreciate the finality brought to this issue by the decisive steps of the EC through definite and comprehensive timelines for the compilation of the new voters register. That is a decisive step that the citizenry and electorate must respect and uphold” said Mr. Asante.
Not fit for purpose
Mr. Asante stated that a significant shortcoming of the current register was the inclusion of persons who registered using National Health Insurance (NHIS) cards which are not limited to only citizens, but are available to all residents of Ghana. “Consequently, the voters register included names of persons who were merely resident in Ghana and not necessarily citizens who were qualified to vote in our elections. This was confirmed by the ruling of the Supreme Court of Ghana in Abu Ramadan & Evans Nimako v EC & AG in 2016 in which the Court held that the NHIS Card was not a valid form of ID for voter registration, the court further directed the EC to expunge from the voters register the names of all persons who registered with the NHIS Card,” he said.
He indicated that the LMVCA maintains that the issue of NHIS has not been effectively carried out by the EC thereby rendering the current voters register bloated and not fit for purpose.
Mr. Asante added that the EC’s justification for a new register, prominent among is the fact that the data is controlled solely by the vendor and not the EC makes much sense for a new voters register.
“Furthermore, the EC has stated that there is a myriad of technical challenges in the management, maintenance and operation of the Biometric Verification Devices which hinder the smooth running of elections. We believe that the EC must therefore acquire modern technology that addresses these shortcomings. It is also authoritative to note, parliament has approved the budget of the EC in that regard,” he stay.
Meanwhile, the group has described 16th September, 2015 as “one of the darkest days in the political history of our beloved nation, Ghana”.
Members of the group, on 16th September, 2015 clashed with the Police during a demonstration to demand for a new voters’ register in the run up to the 2016 general election.
Police arbitrary act
The Police in an unprovoked attack unleashed rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons on the protesters who were demanding the compilation of a new voters’ register before the general elections.
Several people sustained injuries, including Justice Adjakuma, who lost one eye, and Ernest Yeboah. Mr. Adjakuma, later in 12th May, 2019, died at a hospital at Malam in Accra.
They used the press conference to commiserate with Mr. Adzakumah and Mr. Yeboah who were both integral part of the demonstration and suffered varying degrees of injuries which eventually led to their demise.