The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana on Tuesday organised a stakeholder consultative forum to discuss relevant matters relating to the achievement of democracy and peace, by improving upon the Voter Registration process to achieve credible elections.
The forum, which was part of a project on “Deepening Public Confidence in Ghana’s Elections,” was facilitated by the KAB Governance Consult, a non-governmental organisation working to promote good governance in Ghana.
It brought together stakeholders including representatives of all the Political Parties, the Christian Council of Ghana, the Institute for Democratic Governance, the Ghana National Association of Teachers, Ghana Education Service, and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers among others, to brainstorm on how to improve upon the electoral process.
Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, said although the Commission had received many suggestions and recommendations from stakeholders after the Election 2012, none of the proposals mentioned issues on Voter Registration, yet the system was not a perfect one and needed some review.
He said the Commission had taken a decision to broaden its consultation base with stakeholders beyond the Inter-Party Advisory Committee programmes in order to solicit for wider views on how to improve upon the Voter Registration processes, especially with the introduction of the biometric registration system.
He said various challenges were also anticipated with the replacement of the C.I. 12 with the C.I. 72 regulation of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations of the 1992 Constitution.
According to Dr Afari-Gyan, since future successes of Ghana’s electoral system was dependent on a successful voter registration exercise and a clean voter register, it was important that regular consultations were held to strategise on how to eliminate all inherent challenges.
Dr Afari-Gyan said the C.I. 72 which would now form the basis for a future voter registration, required that unlike the C.I 12, an eligible voter is required to produce a proof of eligibility, which may include a Ghanaian Passport, National identity card, National health Insurance card or an old voter’s identity, at the point of registration.
He said although the new regulation made provision for registrants who could not produce any of the required identity cards to complete a guarantee form which must be endorsed by two credible registered voters, these guarantors cannot endorse for more than five registrants.
Dr Afari-Gyan said it was anticipated that other aspects of the new regulation under the verification of biometric data may create problems for people who faced identification problems, and this might dis-enfranchise some eligible voters.
He, therefore, challenged the participants to suggest ways of addressing the challenges inherent in the new C.I. 72 regulation which include the abolition of proxy voting, how to register prisoners as well as Ghanaians living abroad.
Mr Amadu Sulley, Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission, gave a presentation on the legal framework, methodology, and challenges encountered during the exercise and other vital statistics of the voter registration process.
He said the Commission had technical, operational and logistic constraints during the Biometric Voter Registration exercise and the voting process in the Election 2012 and said these created delays in a number of polling stations across the country.
He mentioned challenges such as the failure of some Data Entry clerks to follow simple instructions regarding the usage of the biometric machines, failure of the machines to register some finger prints of eligible voters, double registration and some reported cases of attacks by “Macho men” in some polling stations as negative incidences that nearly marred the success of the entire exercise.