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Opinions of Sunday, 9 February 2020

Columnist: Rachael Omeife

New voters register 2020 - Staged?

On 27th March 2019, the country was thrown into opinionated chaos. Elections are pre-determined by the powers that be!

The Electoral Commission is an independent body. This auspice grants the EC the privilege to conduct activities that would ensure it achieves its objective- conduct election, with no interference.

If the EC surmise cleaning the voters register is necessary to achieve its constitutionally enshrined mandate, why the stupendous opposition?

Background

Before the 2004 General Elections, Thirteen (13) Political Parties unanimously agreed to have a new voter register as the existing register has not been changed since 1995. A consensus held in 2000 saw over eighteen (18) million citizens above the age of 18yrs, misrepresenting the 2004 voters register which reflected a populace of a little above Ten (10) million. This exercise increased the credibility of the register.

In 2008, a limited voter registration saw the bloating of the register with over 800,000 registered. This dent did not go unnoticed by international observers. The Carter Center Long-Term Observers regarded this as “the most controversial aspect of the electoral process”.

This exercise countered the 2004 recourse consequently reduced the credibility of the voters register.

In 2012, the credibility of the register was contested. As such, a biometric technology was introduced to forestall electoral fraud. Already, heavily expressed claims of high saturation of Togolese on the NDC paychecks in the register could not be tackled by the technology due to its inherent limitations. This Biometric registration did not restore the broken trust of voters. The aftermath resulted in the contesting of the election result by the leading opposition party (NPP) who felt disadvantaged.

In 2016, the leading opposition party (NPP) and its sympathizers vented a public outcry for a new voter register as the existing list was deemed unreliable from the start and boosted the ruling government’s (NDC) quest to political power with emphasis on foreigners from Togo, Ghost names et al.

Twist

After the 2016 General Elections, the highest winning margin was recorded in the Ghanaian electoral history with the main opposition party (NPP) with the upper hand

Rationale behind uproar

The ruling for a new voter register with the notion of it being bloated in favor the NDC was not logical with the aftermath of the 2016 General Election. Why confidently conduct a District Assembly election nationwide yet claim the register used is flawed? Then throw the results to the dogs!

The 1992 constitution is silent on the periodic interval for compilation of a new voters register creating a wide gap for MANIPULATION – an irresistible source of political power.

Interference of Political Parties in electoral function has reduced credibility in its mechanisms. As the saying goes: “Water is never considered bitter unless tasted”. The electoral fraud of 2008 will not be written off from the Ghanaian History.

Way forward

Compiling a new voter register amidst public outburst will not restore confidence in any way but would go a long way to prove a die-hard electoral interference. Besides, “minds are made up to reject”.

The 1992 constitution should be amended to provide a time frame for the renewal of the Ghanaian voter register. This is needed to ensure the EC carries out its function with no opposition.

Conclusion

To restore confidence in the face of these limitations would mean to reevaluate the registration process to combat cases of electoral fraud such as ‘bloating’ of the register. Reason being Ghana runs a two-party de facto state with both parties ready to ‘massage’ figures for a comfortable lead in elections.

While we reassess our electoral registration process and modify the Constitution to include periodic interval for a new voter compilation, lets; Leave it as it is and work with what we have