The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to focus its mop-up voter registration exercise on areas which recorded issues that affected the ability of persons to register instead of the “the blanket directive” to carry out the exercise only in its District Offices.
The EC after the just ended voter registration exercise across the country began a mop-up exercise to capture persons on the voter roll who were unable to do so during the 30-day registration period.
The mop-up exercise is due to be conducted on Saturday, 8 and Sunday, 9 August 2020 at all EC district offices across the country.
In a statement issued by the NDC and signed by its Director of Elections, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, the party urged the EC to “undertake the mop-up voter registration exercise in areas where equipment breakdown, shortage of registration materials, faulty equipment, cases of violence and change of registration schedules among other factors affected the ability of people to register in those areas.”
It referred to EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa’s address to “the press a week ago on July 28, 2020” when she said: “that the Electoral Commission will not undertake a ‘blanket’ mop-up exercise and that the mop-up registration exercise will be conducted on a needs basis.
“She stated further that “The mop-up exercise will be held in selected areas based on information from our offices as to the number of applicants who still have not presented themselves for registration”.
The NDC noted that it is “therefore astounded by the decision of the Electoral Commission to undertake the mop-up in their District Offices only.”
The party “observed that several challenges confronted the mass voter registration exercise in some areas and this affected the registration of many qualified people. The deployment of faulty and non-functional equipment and breakdown of the registration equipment resulted in situations where people who queued for several hours and days were unable to register in some registration centres.
“Again, the violence at some registration centres, including the shooting incident by Akufo-Addo’s Minister for Special Development Initiatives, Hawa Koomson, coupled with the conscious attempts by agents of the NPP including security agencies to physically prevent citizens from registering adversely affected turnout in those areas.”
It further continued that: “Failure on the part of the EC to create registration centres or in the alternative deploy mobile registration vans to areas where citizens have to commute several kilometres to access the nearest registration centre also affected the ability of people to register.
“In parts of the Volta Region, specifically Ketu South and Adaklu Constituencies, NPP agents and executives prevailed upon Electoral Commission Officials to reduce the number of officers who were assisting in the completion of the registration forms claiming that the process was too fast resulting in the registration of more people.
“By the decision of the EC to conduct the mop-up exercise in its District Offices only, many people who otherwise availed themselves at registration centres to register but could not do so due to any of the factors stated above may have to commute several kilometres, at their own expense, to the EC offices mostly at the District capital before they can register.”
It added that: “The right to vote as guaranteed in Article 42 of our Constitution is a fundamental human right and therefore under no circumstances should artificial impediments be created to prevent eligible citizens from registering and voting. This is a clear affront to our democracy that must be condemned.”
The NDC also reminded “the Electoral Commission of its mandate in article 45 (e) of the 1992 Constitution that, it is their duty to undertake programmes for the expansion of the registration of voters. Any acts of voter suppression that seek to frustrate and discourage the registration of voters is unconstitutional and must not be accepted by all well-meaning Ghanaians.”
It therefore called on the “Electoral Commission to deploy equipment to areas where through no faults of citizens, they were unable to register instead of restricting the exercise to their District Offices where many people cannot afford to commute to register.”