The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Kwahu Afram Plains North, Betty Nana Efua Krosby Mensah, has appealed to the Electoral Commission (EC) to reverse its decision to use only district offices of the commission as registration centres in the upcoming voter registration exercise.
She said if the current decision is carried through, it will disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters across many communities in the constituency.
“The Electoral Commission should not and must not exercise its powers conferred on it by the constitution in a manner arbitrary as to deny citizens the right to register and vote through administrative action or inaction,” she told journalists at Donkorkrom on Wednesday.
The MP said currently, it was a disincentive for those who turned 18 years old to attempt to register because the cost of travelling to the district offices was high.
Giving the breakdown, Mrs Krosby Mensah said since most of her constituents live on the island, it will cost a person a total of GHS310 to travel to embark on the exercise.
It is against the background that some people spend two days before getting to town, which is a disincentive for them to do so.
“There are practical implications for this limited voter registration exercise if the EC proceeds with its current arrangements.
“Eligible voters, particularly women and young people who desire to enjoy their Article 42 rights, will have to travel several kilometres by water and road to Donkorkrom.
“For those who cannot make the journey in a day, they have to make arrangements for accommodation and leave only after they have been registered,” she said.
Mrs Krosby Mensah said the action by the EC for the September 12 to October 2 exercise was unpredictable since people will be travelling from all communities across the constituency.
In addition, she said people who do not possess the Ghana card will have to arrange and possibly travel with two guarantors to help them register.
“It implies that eligible registrants will have to abandon school, work and other economic activities for the days that they will be trying to register.
“It will also come at a great cost to eligible constituents since they have to bear the cost of transportation and accommodation, amidst heavy rainfalls, not forgetting the frequent accidents on the lake,” she said.
In all, there are over 575 communities in the constituency, of which 222 are located on the Volta Lake.
The constituency has 31 electoral areas and 127 polling stations.
Out of this number, 13 electoral areas and 54 polling stations are located on various islands.
Indeed, given the nature of the constituency, the only reliable means of transport are boats, canoes and ferries.
The MP said to access the district capital, constituents have to travel several kilometres on water and commute by road to Donkorkrom.
“Constituents who live on Agordeke (Digya Island) for instance have to travel by boat for about 8-10 hours to get to the river bank at Supom (Bridge Ano) and then continue for over a 25-kilometre distance by road to the district capital, Donkorkrom.
She said if the EC was constrained by a lack of human and logistical resources, the proper thing to do was to come to Parliament and make a justification for resources to do its work.
“I will be the first MP to advocate that the Commission should be provided with the needed resources to perform its constitutional mandate,” she said.