One of the key defining features of a thriving democracy is the conduct of peaceful, free, fair, and transparent elections. Credible elections are integral to democracy. There are several processes and activities that lead to transparent and credible elections and the most valuable partis a reliable and credible voter’s register.
All those who have Ghana at heart must support the electoral commission to compile a new, reliable and credible voter’s register. The majority of Ghanaians must support the Electoral Commission as 16 recognized political parties out of 17 are in support. These are the reasons why we should support them.
1. The creation of new regions has compelled the EC to have a new register as each region must have special code per the laws of the commission.
2. Supreme court in 2016 in a 5-2 decision ruled that, the commission launch swift action to delete names of minors, dead persons and persons who had registered and voted in the 2012 polls with national health insurance cards – banned for use as means of identification in voter registration when Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako took the EC and the Attorney General to court. The EC claimed they did it but as at now, I know some people who have their names registered with the National Health Insurance Card in the register.
3. There were unresolved issues with the voters’ register that led to the fear that many people who used the national health insurance identity card to register were not being given ample time to re-register in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling. Again, there was no clarity regarding how the register was pruned to rid it of the names that were not supposed to be on it.
4.The Biometric Verification Registration (BVR) machines are end-of-life, meaning that no components are available to repair items, including laptops according to the manufacturers to SUPERTEC Limited (STL).
5. The current biometric system used by the EC faced a number of challenges in 2016 because the machines were obsolete since the BVR kits were procured in 2011 and the last time EC purchased the kits was in 2013. Not only were the kits obsolete, but also it would help de-duplicate the data in the system, for a reliable and sustainable electoral register, noting that on May 18, 2018, HSB identification, B.V, Netherlands, the manufacturers, in their letter to SUPERTEC Limited indicated the components of BVR were old and recommended the purchaseof new ones.
6. The warranties for the equipment in the data centre and the licenses for the software had expired since 2014 despite the vendor drawing USD 3,972,252 per annum, the system was at the verge of crashing.
7. The immediate past EC Chair on June 28, 2018, awarded cost to procure new kits and that the cost was not as expensive as compared to the amount agreed to buy the equipment in 2018, by the previous EC, the procurement of the new one would save USD 18,364,500 equivalent to GH¢104,677,650.00.
Let us support the EC to exercise its constitutional mandate without fear or favour. Chapter seven of Ghana Constitution, article 46 posits that, “Except as provided in this Constitution or in any other law not inconsistent with this Constitution, in the performance of its functions, the Electoral Commission, shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.”IPAC was created to offer a two-way communication channel of information collection from the political parties and also discuss all aspects of activities and programmes, elicit inputs and explain important and relevant matters where possible but not to dictate to the EC.
What will happen if party A says we don’t want this, party B says we don’t want this, party C says we don’t want this? We shouldn’t encourage that! Let’s leave the EC to exercise its constitutional mandate. The right of a citizen to vote is also a fundamental right which is guaranteed by the 1992 constitution. Let’s follow the steps of the EC to register to qualify one to exercise his or her franchise. After all the NPP boycotted the 1992 Parliamentary election but didn’t stop the EC from conducting the election. Those who don’t want it can also boycott it peacefully without any qualms.
Owing to the COVID 19 situation and the need to adhere to the health protocols, the EC has procured enough PPE and is committed to rolling out the necessary protocols towards a safe and secure 2020 voter registration exercise, which it had already made public. Let us remember that some people are still doing bank transactions and other activities by observing COVID 19 protocols and the EC will follow suite to protect the Ghanaian citizenry. I will urge the security services to protect the citizenry and deal with any person or group of persons who will foment trouble during the process. Ghana first before any political party.
From Danny Opoku Antwi (NPP Columbus Chapter Secretary