28.07.2020 Feature Article

History To The Intricacies And Nuances In The Argument For Or Against A New Electoral Roll: Where Lies The Consistency?

History To The Intricacies And Nuances In The Argument For Or Against A New Electoral Roll: Where Lies The Consistency?
28.07.2020 LISTEN

"There are two main schools of thought, with contrasting views, on what constitutes electoral reform. The first school of thought comprises those who believe that electoral reform must encapsulate a wholesale replacement of electoral processes (Lijphart 1994; Katz 2007). This suggests a detailed review of an electoral process, including the formula for allocating seats and other voting arrangements.

The second school of thought is made up of those who believe that electoral reform comprises all minor and major changes that serve to improve the electoral processes. This position is captured by the studies of Jacobs and Leyenaar (2011), and International IDEA (2006, Chapter 12). They have argued that electoral reform may not necessarily entail a total overhaul of national electoral processes. Any change in electoral rules that leads to alterations in the operation of the electoral system, improves it, and makes it responsive to the expectations of the electorate connotes electoral reform (International IDEA 2006, Chapter 12).

It is reform when the change is intended to foster and enhance the impartiality, inclusiveness, transparency, integrity, or accuracy of the electoral process (Jacobs and Leyenaar 2011" in ( Gyampo, 2017).

Since the inception of the 4th Republic, both opposition and the incumbent government have clamoured for electoral reforms in line with the second school of thought which is to make a preponderant number of changes which serve to improve the electoral processes depending on the political lenses with which one is looking at the reform in question.

There have been several reforms ranging from breaking away from the translucent or opaque ballot boxes to transparent ones or having the passport picture of the voter on the voter's ID card amongst several others which have largely improved upon Ghana's electoral system of which the unceremonious clamour for a jettison or otherwise of an existing voters' register is a prominent feature.

Apart from the 1996 General Election which an incumbent had to succumb to a clamour for a new voters' register that was put together during its term of office, no incumbent government has attempted to change an electoral roll prepared under its watch.

In fact, they have all sought to change the voters' register ostensibly because it had been put together during the term of the previous government. This situation is largely due to the incredulous mistrust towards the activities of the Electoral Commission engineered by some scoundrel political players in the two major parties. For instance, the voters's register that brought the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to power in election 2000 was changed towards the 2008 elections, a decision that was met with intense resistance by members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

In contrast to the intense resistance to changing the register in 2008 by NDC, they now sang the same song of changing the register in preparation towards the 2012 elections.

NPP again won the 2016 elections with the 2012 register prepared during the time of NDC. Therefore, a new electoral roll is non-negotiable should we wish to have free, fair, transparent and credible elections with outcomes that meet the acceptability criterion of a properly conducted election.

Interestingly, either of the sides have sought to put up an unimaginable defence for a new register when in power but cry for the maintenance of the existing register with all their strength and with all their might when they become erstwhile government.

From the foregoing and also from the fact that every elected political party has spent 8 years or two terms before leaving office, the prediction is that Ghanaians should brace themselves for a new voters' register towards the 2028 elections. However, in the unlikely event that the NDC manages to break this historical trend by winning the December 7, then it will be changed in preparation towards the 2024 elections with the register having a lifespan of only 4 years at expense of the Ghanaian tax payer. Ghanaians, did we got come'?

Must we continue in the tangent of spending huge sums of money which could have been expended on our development drive towards infrastructure among others in every 8years just for a new electoral roll?

Food for thought.

Daniel Yiadom Boakye

ModernGhana Links