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23.05.2019 General News

Ex-Assemblyman Drags EC To Court Over Limited Voter Registration

EC Boss and DeputiesEC Boss and Deputies

The Electoral Commission (EC) has been dragged to Supreme Court by a native of Daboya in the Savanna Region over the limited voter registration exercises.

Mr Umar Ayuba, a former Assemblyman for Yagbong Electoral Area in the Daboya Mankarigun constituency, suing as a concern citizen of Ghana is asking the apex court of the land to interpret Article 45(a), 45(e) and 42 of the 1992 constitution.

A copy of the writ dated Thursday May 23, 2019 filed by Ayine & Felli Law Offices and in possession of Modernghanan indicated that the plaintiff sought to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to make pronouncement on the Article 45 and 42 of the 1992 constitution.

The EC led by Jean Mensah, has set Friday 7th June to Thursday 27th June, to conduct the limited voters registration exercises at the District capitals and other selected areas.

The exercise is targeting young Ghanaians who attained the voting age of 18 plus but do not have their names in the Register.

The plaintiff argued in his writ that over the past years, the EC has always conducted limited and general voter registrations exercises, at all electoral areas in the 275 constituencies of the country, but the 2019 exercises which is to be conducted at district offices will disenfranchise a chunk number of the first time voters population.

In the view of the former Assemblyman, registration of voters at electoral areas has since become legal exercises as per the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (CI. 91).

Records at the electoral areas since CI 91, came into force indicated that registration at the electoral areas has more advantage of obtaining higher numbers of the voters population turning out to register..

Umar argued that for eligible citizens living in remote rural constituencies of the country, the registration at the level of the electoral areas undoubtedly reduces the cost of time and money of travel to and from the district capitals which, in most cases, are at far distance from the communities.

Citing his own constituency to buttress his contention, the plaintiff said, “In the particular case of the Daboya-Mankarigu Constituency, a first-time voter residing in Bombo, a rural community in the Constituency, needs to travel 94 km to the district capital, Daboya, in order to be able to register."

In the statement of case challenging the constitutional basis of the EC to set voters Registration centres only at the District Capitals, the plaintiff sought the Supreme Court to among others declare that,"upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 45(a), 45(e) and 42 of the Constitution, the decision of the “2nd Defendant (EC) to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the district offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas, will result in voter suppression as is evident from the same exercise carried out in 2018, particularly in rural constituencies of the country, and is, thus, unconstitutional as it violates the rights of first-time voters to register and vote.”

Further, he want, "a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of article 45(a) and (e) of the Constitution, the decision of the 2nd Defendant to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the District Offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas is inconsistent with and in contravention of the mandate of the 2nd Defendant as contained in article 45(a) and (e) of the Constitution and Regulation 2 Sub-regulation (2)(a) and (b) of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (CI 91)."

In addition, the plaintiff want the Supreme Court to declare that, "upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 42, 45(a), 45(e) and 17 of the Constitution, the decision of the 2nd Defendant to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the District Offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas places an unwarranted and disproportionate burden on first-time voters, especially in rural constituencies such as Daboya-Mankarigu. The decision is thus discriminatory and a violation of the right of first-time rural voters to be granted equal opportunity to register to vote under articles 42 and 17 of the Constitution."

Other reliefs sought includes, "a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 45(a), 45(e), 17, 23 and 296 of the Constitution, the decision of the 2nd Defendant to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the District Offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas is an unreasonable and arbitrary exercise of its discretionary power in relation to voter registration"

The former Assemblyman also want an order directed at the EC to "undertake the 2019 limited voter registration exercise in the manner prescribed by law, specifically the Public Elections (Voter Registration) Regulations, 2016 (CI 91), in order to avoid altogether or minimize the suppression of votes particularly in the rural constituencies of the country."

He also asked the Supreme Court for an order of this Honourable Court directed at the 2nd Defendant, its employees, servants and agents to desist from destroying any and all documents and records relating to the 2018 limited voter registration exercise conducted by the 2nd Defendant (EC) until the final determination of this suit and any further order or orders as to this Honourable Court shall seem fit in the circumstances.

The plaintiff attached exhibits of limited voter registrations pattern for the 2016 and the 2018 referendum, as evidence of attempt to suppress potential voters.

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