EC Is Silent On Validation Of Voters Register -DI

The Danquah Institute, a Public Policy and Research Centre, has beseeched the Electoral Commission (EC) to break its silence on the validation of the current voters’ register, as recommended by the five-member panel set up to work around the call by some political parties and civil society organisations for a new register.

It accused the EC of being predictably quick in agreeing with the panel’s report that the nation did not need to go through the cost and time-consuming process of compiling an entirely new biometric register.

“But, the EC was disappointedly completely silent on the suggestion, which the panel proposed to fix what was wrong with the register,” it pointed out, adding that “critical among the findings of the Justice VCRAC Crabbe Panel is that the number of names on the voters’ register is “dangerously” and unacceptably more than the total estimate of people eligible to register to vote in Ghana.”

For the Institute, the proposal by the panel, which, it claimed, was the “most reasonable solution” to having a credible register ahead of the 2016 general elections, “appears to have been totally ignored by the Electoral Commission.”

In October 2015, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, constituted a panel of five prominent people and experts, including a former Supreme Court Judge and former Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Justice VCRAC Crabbe, who was the chairman of the Panel; a former head of the Ghana Statistical Service, Dr. Mrs. Grace Bediako; a renowned ICT expert, Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor, and two other prominent religious leaders.

The panel was tasked with the responsibility of hearing proposals from the various stakeholders, analyse the views, and conduct hearings at a public forum on the issue of the register, come out with findings, and provide recommendations to the Electoral Commission.

The constitution of the panel was occasioned by petitions and calls by some political parties, including the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the People’s Progressive Party PPP) and civil society groups, such as the Danquah Institute and Let My Vote Count Alliance, a number of prominent groups and individuals, including religious groups and former heads of state, and many Ghanaians, calling for a new and credible voters’ register.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Nana Attobrah Quaicoe, downplayed the efficacy of the exhibition process which the EC had undertaken over the years, arguing that validation of the register was the only way the results of the elections could be accepted.

Citing the Republic of Togo as an example, he recalled that it was only when the country’s voters’ register was validated that the opposition became assured of a credible election.

“Ghanaians should recall that validation was what was used in Togo to the satisfaction of the opposition parties, which had issues with the credibility of the voters’ register used for the last elections there,” he revealed. According to the Executive Director, the process of validation should be mandatory, which would mean that anyone who did not show up at their polling centres to ensure that their details have been captured must be disenfranchised.

Positing that validation would save the country a lot of money, Nana Attobrah was of the view that the process would give all registered voters “an opportunity to authenticate the inclusion of their names on the register, by turning up at a registration centre during a period of limited or special registration to have their fingerprints biometrically verified, their facial image cross-checked with the EC database, and that they should turn up with, not only their voter ID, but also an additional, legally approved personal identification document to justify their eligibility and names remaining on the electoral roll.”

He, therefore, called on the EC Chairperson to, as a matter of urgency; consider the option to validate the current voters’ register, which would be free from double registration, and the names of the deceased, among others.

By Pascal Kafu Abotsi
([email protected])

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