There seems to be no turning back as regards the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) decision not to compile a new voters’ register for the 2016 elections and beyond, despite overwhelming evidence that the electoral roll is bloated.
The largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), had raised concerns about the existing electoral roll, which was used for the 2012 elections and generally believed to be flawed.
The NPP claimed the register was not only replete with foreign nationals, but also full of minors and all manner of persons who did not deserve to be on the list, compelling the EC to set up a five-member committee to investigate their grievances.
The committee in turn came out with a report which shot down the NPP’s claim, saying there was no need for a new register.
The EC therefore indicated its readiness to clean the register.
Even though it was not clear what method it intended to use in cleaning the register, some including the United States of America (USA) branch of the NPP insisted there was still the need for a new voters register since the existing one was flawed.
That was what compelled the EC Boss, Charlotte Osei, to reiterate her resolve not to allow any political party to stampede the Commission.
Speaking at a press briefing in Accra, Mrs Osei said she would not allow the independence of her outfit to be toyed with.
“An electoral management body should never be stampeded into taking a decision by a political party. That is why the Constitution gives you independence. People may try to stampede but you have to stand your ground and do what is right,” she said.
She explained that there was inclusiveness in what they did in the sense that “you need to listen to the views of all the stakeholders and examine their views and take it on board when you can. But you must always do what is right and what is legal.”
She dispelled claims by the NPP that the EC had failed to contact the Togolese electoral body over claims that over 76, 000 Togolese nationals have their names and pictures in Ghana’s electoral roll.
She said the main opposition party could always come to her office to verify.
“You can come to our office and we’ll give you copies of our letters to the Togolese electoral commission and we can also show you copies of their response on their letterhead and that should settle the matter,” Mrs Osei stated.
Togolese opposition had defended the NPP saying that the register presented by Ghana’s main opposition was the same register used by the French-speaking country.
Some interest groups, including the NPP and Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), had asked what the nation stands to lose in compiling a new voters’ register to safeguard the credibility and integrity of the country’s upcoming election, but the EC boss said the right and legal thing must always be done in accordance with the law.
She however indicated her willingness to listen and examine views from various quarters.
The NPP and the LMVCA were however yet to give their official view on the EC’s position and the committee’s report, even though it was clear they were all against the outcome.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu