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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Columnist: Dr. Frank Kwadjo

1.3 million new voters and innovation to decide 2020 elections

The year 2020 has been challenging for every country in the world due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Ghana is also experiencing the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic within an election year full of national-level activities, such as the National Identification registration, the putting together of a new voter register, and an upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in December.

These national events involve interaction and organization of a large number of Ghanaians for various reasons across most communities in the country.

These interactions and organizations put the nation at great risk due to the current trends of how COVID-19 spreads, the world at large still has no clear cure, and it continues to take the lives of Ghanaians and many across the world.

The government has been commended globally for the initial directives and steps taken to mitigate the negative impact and spread of this pandemic.

One critical upcoming event that will involve a lot of interactions and campaigning is the activities leading the 2020 General Elections.

All political parties will be implementing their campaign activities on the national, regional, district, and constituency levels, which will pose a great challenge to all political parties since the orthodox ways of campaigning is going to be a thing of the past and demands an outside the box approach of campaigning to communicate with grassroots and supporters of various political parties.

This year also will see the rise in young and first-time voters as young people above 18year old have been allowed to register within their communities as the government successfully ended the compiling of a new voter register.

These voters are mostly millennials who are defined as the group of people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.

According to an article by Forbes, the characteristics of the millennial generation include being (1) socially conscious as they are heavily oriented towards the internet and social media.

(2) Technology-based as they adapt to using smartphones, laptops, and other technological gadgets faster than the previous generation.

(3) Ethnically diverse as they are exposed to varying perspectives and information via a global digital world, which makes them open-minded and more tolerant.

(4) Educated and knowledgeable as they have access to education and information at the tip of their fingers.

(5) Health Conscious as they use technologies developed to diminish the risks of disease and other health-related problems through access to information and researching online.

Campaigning and Engaging these millennial voters would require innovation, new tools and techniques.

To reduce the spread of the Coronavirus and harness the potential of getting the votes of new millennial voters, all political parties would have to turn to technology to win the upcoming 2020 General Elections.

The campaign teams of all major parties, especially NPP and NDC, will have to spend some of their budgets on a series of innovative, unorthodox mediums of communication to engage over 1.3 million new voters and grassroots supporters.

We have already seen most of the parties relying on social media especially Facebook to interact with supporters. This works but to a very limited extent since most rural parts of Ghana still do not have access to the internet and high levels of illiteracy.

Better still, the question is, how do we use innovation to avoid the spread of Coronavirus whiles engaging grassroots and first-time voters in the most rural parts of Ghana to perform their civic duty to sustain our democracy?

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