The Electoral Commission (EC) has entreated the government to adequately fund the National Identification Authority (NIA) to fast-track the acquisition of Ghana Card for voter registration purposes.
Such a move, the EC said, would enable the country to abolish the guarantor system sooner because it said it was fraught with many challenges, susceptible to abuse, and was not the best option for the country’s quest to improve its electoral system.
At a press conference in Accra Tuesday (Oct 17), a Deputy Chairperson of the EC in charge of Operations, Samuel Tettey, said the recent limited voter registration exercise brought to the fore the abuse of the guarantor system, with minors being bussed to register.
“The commission abhors the encouragement of minors to register.
This is a crime.
It does not augur well for us as a nation, and we urge all citizens and stakeholders to join the commission to solve this age-long canker.
The sad fact is that these minors were bussed to registration centres by citizens who should know better,” he said.
The Deputy EC Chairperson, however, gave an assurance that those who abused the guarantor system and guaranteed for more than 10 persons as stipulated by law would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Mr Tettey stressed that the Ghana Card remained the best proof of one’s citizenship as a Ghanaian and the most reliable option to sanitise the country’s electoral roll.
“The use of the guarantor system is fraught with blatant abuse as witnessed in the just ended voters registration exercise.
Most countries in the sub-region, to mention but a few, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda and Kenya, do not use the guarantor system as evidence of identification as a citizen”.
“If indeed, we are committed to strengthening our electoral processes then the guarantor system must be abolished sooner than later.
We call on government to fund NIA,” he said.
The Deputy EC Chairperson further called on Parliament to pass the C.I. on voter registration which makes the Ghana Card the sole source document for registration to give legal backing for the EC’s move to sanitise the register.
The Press Conference, dubbed: “Let the citizens know,’’ was part of regular public engagements by the EC to inform the general public about its activities.
Yesterday’s press conference was used by the EC to apprise the public of the recent limited voter registration exercise which the EC conducted at its district offices across the country.
Mr Tettey explained that the EC decided to conduct the registration exercise at its district offices and not at electoral areas because it did not factor the exercise at electoral areas in its 2023 budget and work plan.
He, therefore, denied certain reports that the EC attributed the failure to conduct the exercise in electoral areas because of Parliament’s failure to approve its budget.
“The EC has not stated anywhere that Parliament is to be blamed for not approving its budget, hence its decision to register voters at the District Offices.
The EC stated that, it prepared a draft C.I. for a Continuous Registration exercise in all its district offices nationwide and had the C.I. passed, the EC would have had some six (6) months to register voters at a time of their choice.”
The EC said as part of efforts to ensure that every eligible voter got registered, it issued a directive to all its officers to issue chits or numbers to all applicants in the queue on or before 5 p.m. to go to the registration centres the next day to register.
The measure was to ensure that all applicants who went to the registration centres on the last day and were in a queue on or before 5 p.m. were registered a day after the deadline.
Mr Tettey said although some registration centres recorded some number of applicants in the queue, most centres had less than 50 in the queue and in some cases even zero as indicated.
The EC displayed a table that showed 36 registration centres in five districts where there were 1,397 people in the queue, with 17 centres having no person in the queue as of 5 p.m.
Changing of cards
The Deputy EC boss also announced that the commission had started replacing the ID cards of voters in the Guan District in the Oti Region.
He said the exercise started from October 3 and will end on November 2, this year, and all eligible voters are required to go to the EC’ s district office in Likpe.
The exercise, he said, had become necessary due to the fact that voters in the Guan District registered in the Jasikan District in 2020 and it was necessary to change their cards to reflect Guan District.
“With the creation of the Guan District, their voter ID cards bearing the Jasikan District code have to be changed to reflect the code of the Guan District.
Voters in the Guan District are, therefore, entreated to go to the District office and the exhibition centres during the exhibition period with their old voter ID cards and collect the replaced ones/new ones,” Mr Tettey said.