Cape Coast, April 15, GNA- The Electoral Commission (EC), has cautioned the public against double registration when the voter register is opened ahead of the forthcoming District Level elections.
The Central Regional Electoral Commission Member, Mrs. Pauline Dadzawa, who gave the warning on Monday said, persons who had just turned 18 years and above and those who were eligible but could not register in 2012 due to certain reasons, were the only persons qualified to register.
She further cautioned that any attempt at double registration attracted a maximum of two-year prison term as punishment.
Mrs. Dadzawa was addressing a consultative forum on the Public Election Regulations (C.I 75), organized by the Commission and facilitated by KAB Governance Consult in Cape Coast, on the theme: Deepening Public Confidence in Ghanas Elections.
The forum, aimed at providing an opportunity for the Commissions stakeholders to make inputs into the review of the law, was attended by participants, including representatives from the various Political Parties, Academia and the Media.
Mrs. Dadzawa said the EC still had records of all those who registered in 2012, and advised that those who had lost their Voters identity Cards can visit the nearest EC offices for replacement, instead of registering again.
She explained that as part of modifications, the EC had made with regards to the District Level Elections, candidates would no longer be restricted to do house-to-house campaigns, but could mount campaign platforms aside the ones by the EC..
She, however, cautioned that no political party or organized group had the mandate to mount a campaign platform for any candidate, and that if any of such groups wanted to mount platforms, it could sponsor the EC which would organize one to create a level playing ground for all the candidates.
Mrs Dadzawa, in this regard, called on political parties to disengage themselves from District Level Elections, adding that candidates found to be sponsored by any political party or organized group, would be disqualified, with a fine imposed on the sponsors.
She bemoaned the low turn-out of voters during district Level elections, as compared to the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, even though it gives the local people the chance to empower themselves and a shot at self-governance devoid of political affiliations.
The Central Regional Director of EC, Mrs. Philomena Edusei, revealed that during the 2010 District Level (DL) Elections, voter turn-out was 36.1 percent, as compared to 78.8 percent in the Presidential /Parliamentary Elections in 2012.
She described the situation as worrying, and anticipating that a similar challenge may crop up in the forthcoming District Level Elections, and called on eligible voters to come out in their numbers to exercise their franchise during the exercise.
The Public Affairs Director of EC, Mr. Christian Owusu Parry, outlining some challenges from the implementation of the C.I 75 which came to replace the C.I 15 of 1992, said the Biometric Verification Devices(BVD)s inability to verify some voters even though they had registered thereby disenfranchised them.
He stated that the malfunctioning of the BVD due to excessive heat from the sun and faulty batteries led to adjournment of voting in some areas, which he said generated a lot of confusion from the political parties who were not in favour.
Mr Parry noted that though there were problems with the implementation of the C.I 75, its advantages including the curbing of multiple voting, outweighed it disadvantages and gave the assurance that the commission had put in place preventive measures such as the upgrading of the BVD to prevent any discrepancies .
Some participants the GNA spoke to , suggested that the Assembly members should be given some form of incentives to attract more qualified persons to run for the positions, while others advocated for the politicization of the District Level Elections to increase the interest and participation levels.
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