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General News of Thursday, 2 July 2020

Source: Ghanaian Times

Day 2 of voters registration exercise: Social distancing defiance persists

Day two of phase one of the mass voters registration exercise across the country has been characterised by non-conformity to social distancing protocols, as the guarantor system slows down the registration process.

On a visit to a number of centres in Accra, the Ghanaian Times observed that, while the use of face masks has improved, many continue to disrespect social distancing protocols, with the number of prospective registrants increasing.

Some centres visited in the Okaikwei South and Ablekuma South showed that many applicants came to the centre without, the two required identification cards; the Ghana card and passport, thereby resorting to guarantors.

This situation, according to officials of the Electoral Commission (EC) has been delaying the registration process.

At the Kaneshie cluster of schools, an EC official told the Ghanaian Times that, many applicants came to the centre without a passport or Ghana card, and had to either wait for those with the requisite ID card to go through the process and guarantee for them or go and look for guarantors.

This, the EC official said, delayed the process.

At the Kwashieman ‘1’ Basic SCHOOL, a registration officer, Mr Ernest Dogbor, said that 72 cards were issued out to registrants on Tuesday but as at 3:30 p.m. yesterday, the number had increased to 80, with more individuals in the queue, awaiting their turn.

However, the situation at the centre at the Church of Pentecost Central Assembly at Odorkor was completely different.

At this centre, social distancing protocols were strictly adhered to, with applicants in their masks, seated apart from each other.

The exercise at the centre, as explained by the Assistant Registration Officer, Mr Charles Osie has been smooth with people comporting themselves.

While 88 people were issued with their cards on day one, the number had increased to more than 100, at about 4:20 pm when the paper was leaving the centre.

Just as with other centres visited earlier, at the Church of Pentecost Central Assembly, the guarantor system had delayed the registration exercise.

Mr Osie said that the Biometric Verification Device (BVD) automatically ends the process for the day when it was 6 pm; therefore, numbers are given to some prospective applicants at a point in time.

He added that such people were asked to come earlier the following day to go through the process and their cards issued to them.

In all registration centres visited, there was provision of Veronica buckets for hand washing, and infrared thermometers to check the temperature of applicants before they go through the registration process.

Health personnel who spoke to the paper at all the centres visited said that, they had not recorded any case of high temperature among individuals who were there.

Again, there were at least, two police officers and at most five, at all the centres visited by the paper.

Applicants also expressed concern over the slow nature of the registration exercise, indicating that, they keep so long in the queue and are even unable to get their card within a day.

“I came here at 4 am today and my number is 77, but it is past 3:30 pm and it has still not gotten to my turn,” a prospective applicant told the paper at the Kwashieman ‘1’ Basic SCHOOL.

Jemima Esinam Kuatsinu Reports from the Okaikwei North Municipal Assembly that, disregard for social distancing continued to play out at most registration centres as the compilation of the new voters registration entered day two.

Also the aged, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who were supposed to be given priority registration at various centres were seen spending hours at some centres as misunderstanding also erupted at other places.

At the Unto Others International School, a centre at Abeka, the Ghanaian Times observed that people from other centres that were yet to begin their registration had rushed to the centre, thereby, resulting in large numbers of people at the entrance of the school.

This led to some frustrated voters who had been in the queue since 3am feel that they had been cheated as they had not been able to register as at 9am.

Miss Yaa Asiedu said “I have been here since dawn and it is past 9am and I am yet to go in and go through the process.

“This lady here came to meet me, but she is ahead of me, I do not understand what is going on here,” she said.

This was the same complaint expressed by others who spoke to the Ghanaian Times.

At the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Abeka, social distancing and mask wearing protocols were flouted by residents who had queued at the registration centre.

In an interview with the Assemblymember for the Wuoyeman electoral area, Patrick Awuku, he stated that the EC should provide officers additional material that indicates districts “as one of the requirements includes the district in which one’s village is located.”

This, according to him will help quicken the process as people were mostly delayed at the registration desk due to lack of information of where their villages were located.

He, however, urged residents to strictly adhere to the COVID-19 protocols to mitigate the spread of the disease.

The exercise is to be done under strict adherence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols, he added.

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