Two opposition party figures are mulling over the option of dragging the Electoral Commission to court over claims, the voters register is “not credible” enough for any electoral purpose.
Head of Research at the Danquah Institute, Nana Tobra Kwaku and the Peoples’ National Convention’s National Youth Organiser Abu Ramadan are against the registration of new voters in a limited registration exercise and are open to going to court to halt the exercise slated for next month.
Their frustrations reiterates the position of the General Secretaries of the National Democratic Congress, the New Patriotic Party and the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) who have jointly demanded an emergency Inter Party Advisory Committee meeting on the impending registration.
The Peoples’ National Convention’s National Youth Organiser Abu Ramadan has issued a two -week ultimatum to the EC to suspend the exercise or face legal action.
The Danquah Institute is calling on the Electoral Commission to, as a matter of urgency, suspend its plans of registering new voters during the limited registration exercise the EC plans to embark on between June 20 and June 29, 2014.
The governance and policy think tank made this known at a press conference held at the international press centre, Thursday afternoon, and called for a complete audit of the voter register before any further registration of new voters if done.
Mr. Boakye Agyarko, a Fellow of the institute, who read the statement, explained that the EC, in the aftermath the presidential election petition, needs to repair its credibility as it was shown in court that it was not on top of issues regarding elections in the country.
According to Boakye Agyarko, it was “amply” demonstrated in court that “all is not well with Ghana’s register”, adding that “the petitioners in the case proved this point beyond all reasonable doubt.”
He explained that it was proven that there were multiple registrations contained in the biometric voter register, the actual total of registered voters in the country is still in doubt, and also the fact that different voter registers were apparently used for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
“It is recalled that the total number of registered voters that the EC furnished the NPP, with 14,031,680. Subsequently, on Sunday, 9thDecember 2012, the EC declared the total number of registered voters as 14,158,890. Furthermore, on the same date, the EC posted on its website the total number of registered voters as 14,031,793. The Chairman of the EC, during the trial, could not provide cogent reasons for this discrepancy,” he said.
He continued, “Furthermore, although a common register was compiled for both the presidential and parliamentary elections, it turned out, from the results declared by the EC, that the total number of registered voters in respect of the presidential election exceeded that of the registered voters for the parliamentary elections by 127,210 voters.”
The DI fellow, also recounted how it was also proven in court that some of the voter ID numbers supposedly belonging to some of the foreign registered voters could not be found on the general voters register, that is to say they were fake identities.
“The Chairman of the EC admitted all of these in court. Till date, we have no idea as to what the exact number of registered voters in Ghana is. And yet still, the EC wants to go ahead and conduct additional registration, without cleaning the voters’ register? This, certainly, does not bode well for future elections in our dear nation,” he stated.
Boakye Agyarko also quoted from statements made by Dr. Afari Gyan in the run up to the 2008 elections, about the statistical acceptability of voter registers across the world.
According to Dr. Afari Gyan in 2008, in an interview with Joy FM “If our population is indeed 22 million, then perhaps 13 million people on our register would be statistically unacceptable by world standards. If that is the case, then it may mean that there is something wrong with our register.”
Boakye Agyarko explained that as per Dr. Afari Gyan’s assertions in 2008, a voter register containing 12,472,758 out of a population of 22 million persons which represents a percentage of 56.69% was statistically unacceptable, then a 56.20% voter population in 2012 is clearly statistically unacceptable.
“Nigeria, which has a population of 162,470,737 has a voter population of 67,764,327, representing 41.7%. Kenya, with a population of 41,609,728 has a voter population of 14,362,189 representing34.50%. Tanzania, with 42.50% and Senegal with 41.50% of registered voters to their total populations are all significantly lower than Ghana’s. South Africa, who recently had their elections boast of a voter population of 25,390,159 out of a population of some 53 million people, representing 47.9% of the total population.”
“Why is Ghana percentage so high? One does not need rocket science to tell us that there is something fundamentally wrong with our voters register,” he stressed
Call for an audit
Boakye Agyarko intimated that in view of all these, “the only logical step is for a comprehensive audit to be conducted on the current voters’ register, as a guarantee to its credibility, if we are not sure, as a country, where the funds for a new voter register would be obtained from.”
The EC, he stated, must suspend the limited registration exercise until an audit and a clean-up of our current roll is done.
“The EC must find money for this process if we are to continue believing that the body has the interests of Ghana’s democracy and not any other parochial interest at heart. An audit should be seen as the first necessary step in ensuring that we have free, fair, transparent, and peaceful general elections in 2016. Without it, the risk of having another disputed election looms large,” he stated.
The Electoral Commission has insisted the register is “very reliable register and acceptable” to the country.
Responding to the concerns of the opposition, Head of Public Affairs at the EC Christian Owusu Parry, said multiple entries were deleted before the printing of the provisional voters register and even more taken out during the exhibition of the register in 2012.
“I don’t know what kind of auditing they want us to do now”, the Commission official wondered.
Parry said the parties should wait for another exhibition exercise to challenge the credibility of the register.
Suspending next month’s voter registration exercise, he said would derail the process of preparing the register for district level elections later this year.
The E.C’s view was backed by Election Observation Expert with Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO),John Larvie. He urged the parties to wait for the exhibition of the voters register before lodging any concern.