Reasons for new voters’ register unconvincing – CDD-Ghana

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has described as unnecessary the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to compile a new voters register ahead of this year’s election.

Parliament has approved a budget of over GHS 390 million for the EC to conduct a new voter register which is expected to begin later in the year

According to CDD-Ghana, the argument for a new voters’ register by the EC is baseless and does not need to be given the needed attention by the state.

Team Lead for Elections for CDD Ghana, Rhoda Osei Afful said the EC’s reasons are not convincing enough.

“…I am not really convinced [with the reasons given so far, ]. So far as the recent election is concerned, it [current register] has not deteriorated so much. It has been quite consistent. This is not a big issue. It is not something that we cannot manage if we really want to have a clean register. The other point is that the EC also spoke about the fact that the voters’ register is bloated. I will not say the voters register is not bloated.”

“We know it is bloated because we do not have any reliable mechanism for removing names of people who have passed on since 2012 when the voters register was first compiled but that is why we have a biometric verification because if you are a ghost you cannot go through biometric verification. It is not the best to have a voters’ register that is bloated but the issue is how can we manage and so our idea is looking at the fact that the other processes are ongoing. The Statistical Service is going to roll out the population and housing census very soon which will give us good figures which will give us real planning,” Ms. Osei Afful told Citi News.

While the CDD has described the compilation of a new register as needless, thirteen political parties say a new voters’ register ahead of the 2020 general elections is necessary.

The parties believe the EC has made a solid case for a new register in terms of cost, time and credibility.

The parties are made up of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), National Democratic Party (NDP), People’s National Convention (PNC), Convention People’s Party (CPP) the United Progressive Party (UPP), Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), United Love Party (ULP), New Vision Party (NVP), Yes People’s Party (YPP), Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the Reformed Patriotic Democrats Party (RDP).

Addressing the media at a press conference, leader of the Coalition of Political Parties for ‘YES’ to a new register, the LPG’s Kofi Akaploo on Thursday called on all other political parties in the country to rally behind the EC to organise a free and fair election.

“The EC has made a solid case for a new register in terms of cost, time and credibility. We support the compilation of new register and we expect all political parties to support the EC in the quest to deliver a better-organsied election than before.”

NDC’s opposition

The NDC has maintained that the EC’s move to compile a new biometric voters’ register is illogical.

The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah said the new register “defies logic and must be fiercely resisted as we in the NDC intend to do.”

“The current voters’ register was used recently to successfully elect about 6,600 district assembly members and about 33,000 unit committee members. Yet the Electoral Commission is telling us that the same register cannot be used to elect one person and 275 Members of Parliament,” Asiedu Nketia said.

EC’s explanation

An amount of GH¢444,846,663 has been approved for the compilation of a new voters register which the EC believes will be more credible and efficient than the existing one.

The commission also says there is the need to replace outmoded biometric machines.

The Director of Elections at the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe justified the plans saying there was a need to tackle verification challenges that occur on Election Day.

“We have made it very clear that the current biometric system is not good enough for future activities. We are having a lot of challenges with it. In addition to that, a lot of people have found it difficult to have their fingerprints picked up by the machine so we intend to introduce the facial recognition [option] in addition so that if your fingerprint fails, your image will be used for verification.”

Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, also clarified that the said amount is not only for the procurement of equipment but to among other things cater to the full cost of undertaking a fresh registration exercise.