Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee has voted on Wednesday to greenlight the controversial Constitutional Instrument (C.I. 126) that will give legal backing to the Electoral Commission’s (EC) plans to compile a new Voters Register.
Twenty-one out of 25 committee members, who were present at the meeting, voted 12-9 in favour of the controversial C. I., Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent Joseph Opoku Gakpo reported from the house.
Though the Committee is chaired by National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Bolgatanga East, Dr Dominic Ayine, the New Patriotic Party has majority of 14 members and the NDC has 11. All NDC MPs at the meeting voted against approval whilst NPP MPs voted in favour.
Before the Committee voted, members heard arguments from Deputy Electoral Commissioners Samuel Tettey and Dr Bossman Asare who argued in favour of the C. I., as well as Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga who argued against it.
Mr Ayariga was at the Committee sitting because Speaker of Parliament, Mike Oquaye declined to admit a motion he filed requesting the House to reject the Constitutional Instrument, and rather encouraged him to go make his case at the Subsidiary Legislation Committee.
A report of the Committee recommending that parliament approves the C.I. is expected on the Floor of Parliament later this week for debate and approval.
The Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, C. I. 126 amends existing electoral regulation C.I. 91 to make Ghana card and passports the only forms of identification one can use to get onto a new voters’ roll.
People who do not have any of the two documents would have to get two newly registered voters to guarantee for them before they can register.
The new legal authority, however, says no individual can guarantee for more than 10 people.
The amendment, if approved by the House, will effectively mean other forms of national identification including the existing voter’s ID card, birth certificate and other national documents cannot be used in registering for the new voter Identity card.
The instrument was first laid in parliament on 17th March 2020. But it was withdrawn by the Majority leader because it was defective and re-laid. The second document was also withdrawn and a third document was eventually laid on 4th April 2020.
Constitutional instruments introduced in the House matures automatically after 21 sitting days. Unlike regular bills, it is impossible for parliament to amend constitutional instruments laid in parliament.
The House can only reject it or allow for it to mature. The C. I. 126 is expected to mature on Tuesday June 9, 2020. It becomes law the day after, Wednesday, after which the Electoral Commission can go ahead with voter registration based on provisions in the C. I.