Voter registration: EC officials closed before 5 PM – CODEO Report

The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has said some registration centres and officials closed earlier than the stipulated closing time in phase two and three of the current on-going voter registration exercise.

CODEO also said it observed instances where registration officials refused to register applicants who arrived at the centres before the closing time.

Ghana’s Electoral Commission began the compilation of a new voter register for the December 2020 polls across the country on Tuesday, 30 June 2020.

As of Monday, 20 July 2020, a total of 9,860,164 applicants had been registered by the Electoral Commission, representing 65.7% of the projected registrable figure of 15,000,000 in the ongoing voter registration exercise across the country, the election management body has disclosed.

In the preliminary findings by CODEO on phases two and three of the voter registration exercise conducted from July Monday, 6 July to Friday, 17 July 2020 following its earlier report, CODEO stated that: “In 21% of cases, some persons stationed themselves around registration centres and looked out to guarantee for people. Observers reported a few instances where some registered persons attempted to guarantee for persons suspected to be ineligible for registration. For example, at a registration centre (Central Mosque, Medie) in Amasaman in the Greater Accra region, two registered voters filled a guarantee form for one person who attempted to register but upon interrogation by the Registration Officer, [the person] allegedly admitted to being a non-Ghanaian from Burkina Faso and subsequently absconded.”

There were also “unauthorised presence of some individuals at approximately 15% of cases. At a few centres (3%), some party agents tried to prevent some applicants from registering without filling a Challenge Form”.

“Observers indicated that at some registration centres, officials ended daily registration much earlier than the stipulated closing time of 6:00 PM. Observers reported of instances where registration officials refused or were reluctant to register applicants even before 5:00 PM. For instance, at the SDA Primary School-Osiem in Abuakwa North in the Eastern Region, registration officials did not want to register the about 20 persons who had showed up to register in the morning of the last day of Phase Three (July 17th, 2020). The registration officials advised the applicants to rather wait for the next phase of the exercise, which, according to them, was going to take place in the same vicinity. The situation caused some commotion between the officials at the centre and some registration applicants”.

CODEO also observed that: “A few of the observed centres recorded some incidents of confusion, chaos and/or violence, relating to queuing at registration centres and other factors. For instance, on July 13, 2020, at a registration centre (Temp Booth, Jana Mosque) in Nanton in the Northern Region, a fight broke out between some natives and some other persons who were alleged to have come from outside the community to register. This halted the registration process for close to half an hour before registration resumed at about 1:50 PM when calm was restored.

“While COVID-19-related health and safety protocols were observed in the majority of cases, there continued to be some challenges in other instances. The two-metre social distance between applicants in a queue, as instructed by the EC, was observed in most (74%) but not in some cases (26%). This is a slight improvement in the situation compared to Phase One, as reported in our first report (where social distancing could not be enforced in 28% of cases)”.

CODEO continued: “The wiping of fingerprint scanners after use by each applicant was also not fully adhered to at many registration centres. Observers reported that the scanning devices were wiped all the time only in 38% of the cases. It was mostly done ‘often’ (34%) or ‘sometimes’ (24%). In a few instances (4%) the devices were ‘never’ wiped. There were also reported shortages of sanitising/handwashing facilities in a few instances (5%).”

CODEO observers also noted that “temperature checks were not strictly conducted in about 25% of cases. CODEO observers also reported on the breakdown of temperature guns at some registration centres. Some of the centres affected included the Beat 9 Border Post, Aflao in Ketu South in the Volta region, CSD Office-Boso Odumase in Abuakwa North in the Eastern region, M/A Primary School-Mfuom in Upper Denkyira East in the Central Region, and Market Square-Ellonyi No.1 in Jomoro in the Western region. In a few cases, registration was put on hold due to this challenge while in other cases, the exercise proceeded without temperature checks.”

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