Politics of Saturday, 9 August 2014
The Electoral Commission (EC) says it will launch investigations into allegations that some of its personnel are accepting baptismal cards and birth certificates as forms of identification for the ongoing voter registration exercise.
This follows a statement issued by the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) stating that some registration officials were registering prospective applicants who did not possess the specified forms of identification.
The Supreme Court has ruled that prospective applicants must either provide a national identification card, passport or driver’s license to prove their identities.
The Commission’s Acting Public Affairs Director, Christian Owusu Parry on Eyewitness News stated that the officials were given adequate training on the required documents needed for the registration.
“We made it quite emphatically clear that the Supreme Court has struck down the use of the National Health Insurance cards so we are not accepting it. And again, we have never talked about baptismal card or even the birth certificate,” he said.
According to him, these forms of identification were not used in 2012 and neither are they being used in the current registration exercise.
He remarked that, “it will be a bit strange that any registration officer anywhere would accept a baptismal card or a birth certificate.”
Mr. Owusu Parry assured that the Commission will investigate the matter and if it is confirmed, the district officers will be made to answer “and then the Commission will decide what to do.”
Regarding the lack of Police presence at registration centers, he clarified that it is not the practice for Police personnel to be deployed to man the various registration centers across the country during registration exercises.
This response also follows an observation by CODEO that “there has not been any visible Police presence at the registration centers.”
According to Mr. Owusu Parry, registration of voters unlike elections take place over a period of time, therefore, the Commission cannot hire the services of over 6,000 Police personnel to police the 6,000 registration centers.
But the district officers, according to him, are rather advised to seek Police intervention “if they have indication that there is going to be violence at any particular registration center.”
He insisted, “it has never been the case that we deploy Police for registration of voters.”
The EC is undertaking a 10-day registration exercise to register persons who turned 18 years after the 2012 general elections and other individuals who were unable to register during the last registration exercise.
The limited voter registration exercise is taking place across 6,000 centers and CODEO has deployed 350 of its field volunteers to observe the exercise.