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19.05.2004 Regional News

Registration review committees cautioned not to disenfranchise voters

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Assin Foso (C/R) May 19, GNA- Members of district registration review committees, were on Tuesday tasked to deal with challenges emanating from the voters registration exercise, impartially, in order not to disenfranchise eligible voters.

Mr Peter Dery, Assin district co-ordinating director, who made the call, said there was the need to ensure that all challenges, bordering on nationality, double registration, under-age and residence, are thoroughly investigated before decisions are reached.

He was inaugurating an eight- member registration review committee for the district, which comprise the district electoral officer, police commander, representatives of political parties and chiefs.

The Central Region recorded a total of 47 challenges during the exercise and the committees, have up to the end of June to deal with all cases before them.

Mr Dery told the committee that painstaking investigation would enable the committees arrive at the truth that "can stand the test of time."

He pointed out that as committee members, it was important for them to know what constituted a challenge before they could judge whether a particular challenge was valid or not.

Mr Dery said since some of the challenges might require the services of professionals like lawyers and doctors, the committee should not hesitate to seek such professional advice before arriving at a conclusion in a case.

He assured the committee of the assembly's support and expressed the hope that the cases before it would be disposed of without recourse to further investigations.

The district electoral officer Mr Isaac Owusu, said six challenges were recorded during the last registration exercise and were on nationality, double registration and under-age.

The district police commander, Mr Fred Asare, who is also chairman of the committee, tasked his colleagues to help ensure that the committee completes its work on time.

In a related development, the district electoral officer, has explained that unlike in previous elections, visually impaired voters, who hitherto were aided to vote, would be voting on their own during the December elections.

According to him, such persons will vote by tactile ballot, which will enable them to vote "through a sense of touch".

Mr Owusu, gave the explanation when he briefed the Methodist men's fellowship on the importance of the registration and photo taking exercises, on Monday.

He said 43 visually impaired persons, in the district, are among registered voters expected to have their photographs taken when the exercise takes off in the region from June 7-12.

Mr Owusu further explained that persons whose demographic particulars were recorded during the phase one of the registration exercise should not consider themselves as having fully registered for the December elections not until they had gone through the photo-taking exercise.

On the exhibition of the voters' register, Mr Owusu said a period would be given for all registered voters to cross-check their particulars and ensure that their own pictures have been printed in the register.

Mr Joe Yeboah, chairman of the fellowship, appealed to the electoral commission to sustain voter education from now to the election date to enable voters participate fully in the polls. He expressed the hope that there would be no shortage of materials when the exercise takes off. 19 May 04