The compilation of the Voters’ Register used for the 2020 general elections was in line with the institutional practice of the Commission over the years. The Commission has the institutional habit of compiling new Voters’ Rolls every eight (8) years; apart from the 1992 and 1996 electoral rolls, the Commission compiled new registers in 2004, 2012 and 2020. The Election Management body has not deviated from its practice of compiling Voters’ Rolls largely prior to a general election in Ghana.
There is a hint in the media space that the Commission plans to compile a new Voters’ Register using the Ghana Card as the only acceptable document for registration. The Commission is on the verge of abusing its exclusive constitutional powers by taking a decision to have a new roll of voters.
In an article titled “Refine the Independence of the Commission”, I outlined a number of factors as compelling factors that could inform a decision by the Election Management body to compile a new Voters’ Register; obsolete technology, change in features of identification of voters and the introduction of a novel electoral management system. Therefore, the independence of the Commission should not be the critical issue to consider in taking a decision to compile a new Voters’ Roll. The criteria for the compilation of a new Voters’ Register must be based on the obsolescence of the system and equipment for managing the data of voters and the entire electoral system, the need to introduce a new feature for identifying voters and the requirement to employ a novel technology for managing an electoral system. In each of these cases, the Commission must show the necessity and not the convenience for a new roll.
In fact, if the decision to compile a new register presently is not anchored on the factors outlined, such a decision must vehemently be rejected by Civil Society Organisations and others who matter in governance and politics. The decision is replete with bad faith as there is no justification for such an exercise.
The Commission must not execute this agenda by relying on Article 46 of the Constitution alone. The independence of the Election Management body exclusively is not sufficient to taking a decision to compile a new register. The resolution to compile a new register must be underpinned by critical factors that indicate the overall necessity for such an option.
The Commission must not resolve to compile a new Voters’ Register even if it is widely accepted to use the Ghana Card as the only document for electoral purposes. Other alternatives such as importing data from the National Identification Authority (NIA) for the purposes of creating a Voters’ Register or merging the Ghana Card and the Voters’ Identification Card are conceivable.
While it is financially burdensome, the decision to compile a new roll is untenable and perversely defective. The Commission must not arbitrarily use its discretion as the principal factor in reaching such a decision. The Commission must not act in a manner that suggests it is exposed to political manipulations. The decision to compile a new roll of voters currently is not fitting in maintaining the institutional norms of the Commission.
The current attempt to compile a new Voters’ Roll is uncharacteristic of the administrative standards at the Commission. There have been adequate reasons for new registers to be compiled since the beginning of the current republic. The Commission must indicate how its decision to create a new roll of voters meet the criteria set at the Commission. The announcement of the proposal to replace the current register alone impairs the integrity of the Commission. The Voters’ Register compiled for the 2020 general elections could be used for conducting more than one election.
A new voters’ register at this time is needless and indicates abuse of power.
BY Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor, Advocate and Religion Enthusiast