The Electoral Commission (EC) has rejected the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) demand to purge the existing voter register ahead of the 2016 general election.
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the party’s vice presidential candidate, revealed last year that a team commissioned by the party to scrutinize the voter register had identified 76,286 persons with the same data in both Ghana and Togo’s electoral rolls.
Dr. Bawumia, who was speaking at a widely publicized press conference in Accra last year, was emphatic that the party’s team identified the anomaly after comparing Ghana’s register with that of Togo’s.
The persons, he said, were mostly found in the Volta Region with Ketu South cited as one of the constituencies where the anomalies abound.
The NPP contended that the current electoral roll lacks credibility, citing a deliberate inclusion of aliens in the register.
The disclosure triggered a spontaneous call from civil society groups, religious bodies and the NPP in particular, on the EC to consider the option for a new voter register.
Already, Abu Ramadan, a former national youth organiser of the People’s National Convention (PNC), has dragged the EC to court demanding a new voter register before the 2016 elections are held.
The PNC member and one Evans Nimako, citing the Attorney-General (A-G) as second defendant to the action, want the Supreme Court to set aside the 2012 voter register and compel the EC to compile a fresh one before any new public election or referendum was conducted in the country.
But the EC disagreed, insisting that “seeking to remove names of persons who appear on the registers of Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire in the EC’s view, would be an arbitrary and discriminatory application of the law.”
The EC’s response, contained in a 33-page document written to the NPP, argued that “in examining the identity and status of the 76,000 Togolese alleged to be on Ghana’s register, the EC found that they were all duly registered during the mass registration period in 2012.”
The EC holds that the NPP did not provide any proof of the citizenship status of the alleged foreign nationals and did not show any proof that they were not entitled to be registered in Ghana.
According to the electoral body, the biometric register has multiple layers of data protection and integrity assurance and does not permit the possibility of pictures on the register being edited.
“The consultant’s report on the Independent Review of the Biometric Voter Register also supports the position that this is not possible and that the system has adequate integrity and has not been compromised. We would be happy to share the consultant’s report with the NPP,” the EC stated.
Christian Owusu-Parry, Acting Director of Public Affairs of the EC, earlier in a statement issued on the electoral roll controversy, said the demand for a new register was unconvincing.
“The Panel finds the arguments for a new register unconvincing and therefore does not recommend the replacement of the current voters’ register,” he posited in the statement.
According to the statement, the report submitted by the Independent Panel led by His Lordship V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, set up by the Commission, indicates that “the responsibility for having a clean and credible register is the shared responsibility of all citizens of Ghana.”
The statement however, indicated that the EC would continue to engage stakeholders to ensure that a clean and credible register is in place for the upcoming general election through an inclusive and collaborative audit process.
Mr. Owusu-Parry said the Commission was commited to ensuring transparent, inclusive and credible general election this year and to ensuring democratic growth and stability in Ghana.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson