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General News of Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Thousands can't vote; they turned 18 after registration exercise

Thousands of Ghanaians who qualify to vote in the December 7 elections because they will be 18 by that date will not have the opportunity to do so.

That is because although they would have attained 18 years by December 7, 2012, they will be disenfranchised by virtue of the fact that there is no system that allows their names to be captured in the voters register upon attaining the voting age.

Many of the affected potential voters turned 18 after May 5, 2012 when the Electoral Commission (EC) had closed registration for the compilation of a new biometric voters register to replace the old manual register.

The EC undertook a biometric voters registration exercise between March 24 and May 5, 2012, meaning all persons who attained 18 years thereafter will not have the chance to vote.

It is not clear as to the exact number of potential first-time voters likely to be disenfranchised as a result, but the 174,461 candidates who wrote this year's May/June West African Senior High School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) give a fair idea as to the minimum number of people likely to be disenfranchised.

That conservative figure of Senior High School (SHS) students, as well as a large number of youth outside the school environment, will be disenfranchised in the December polls.

However, the EC has given an assurance that the problem will be addressed when it rolls out a continuous registration exercise next year to ensure that people register immediately they turn 18 years.

The acting Director of Communications at the EC, Mr. Christian Owusu-Parry, said the commission would come out with an official date for the beginning of the exercise next year.

He said after the exercise had been rolled out, any person who turned 18 yeas could just walk into a district office of the EC for prompt registration.

According to Mr Owusu-Parry, the Public Elections (Registration of Voter) Regulations 2012 (CI72 imposed an obligation on the EC to undertake continuous registration of voters.

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