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General News of Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Three weeks to Election 2012; No biometric register yet

Three weeks to the December 7 elections, political parties are yet to receive copies of the biometric voters register from the Electoral Commission (EC).

The situation is causing a great deal of discomfort among the political parties and parliamentary candidates who need the register to know the dynamics of voters at polling stations in their constituencies to enhance effective campaigning.

Some of the political parties told the Daily Graphic in separate interviews on Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, that the situation posed a serious challenge to their campaign as they made frantic efforts to clinch victory at the polls.

The Convention People's Party (CPP) and the Progressive People's Party (PPP) described the situation as very disturbing.

However, the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the United Front Party (UFP) were not worried about the absence of the voters register because, in their opinion, it would not make any difference to their electoral fortunes.

The EC has assured the political parties that it will give them copies of the voters register as soon as possible.

"Copies of the register will be made available to the political parties very soon," the acting Director of Communications of the EC, Christian Owusu Parry, told the Daily Graphic Tuesday, 13 November, 2012.

When asked the exact time the register would be released to the political parties, he said it would be very difficult to put a date on it, "but my information is that it will be very soon".

He said the voters register was only meant to be a guide to the political parties as to who might vote for them.

In spite of the EC's assurance, the General Secretary of the CPP, Ivor Greenstreet, said the non-availability of the register was making things difficult for parliamentary candidates in their quest to win the election.

He said the register enabled parliamentary candidates to target voters at polling stations during their campaigning.

While admitting that the EC had faced some challenges as it prepared for the December polls, Mr Greenstreet said the commission should have done better for the political parties.

"This has been an unusual year," he remarked, adding that there was the need to ensure that institutions worked as expected.

Recounting the challenges that the unavailability of the voters register posed to the PPP, the National Secretary of the party, Kofi Asamoah-Siaw, said, "We are groping in the dark."

"It's really unacceptable that three weeks to elections, we don't know who is voting for us," he remarked.

Mr Asamoah-Siaw said he did not understand why the EC had not yet been able to make the voters register available to the political parties, given the technology at its disposal.

He said there was the need to know the number of registered voters, especially at every polling station, to inform the strategies and plans of the political parties.

Articulating a different view on the issue, the presidential candidate of the UFP, Akwasi Addai, said the delay in making the voters register available to political parties would not affect his party in any way.

"The register has got nothing to do with our campaigning," he stated, adding that the UFP had taken in good faith the assurance by the EC to release the register to the parties in due course.

For his part, the presidential candidate of the GCPP, Dr Henry Lartey, said the EC had done a good job as far as preparations towards the December elections were concerned.

"I'm not worried about when it will come. All that we have to do is ensure peaceful elections," he said.

He expressed faith in the EC and asked Ghanaians not to put too much pressure on the commission.

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