Ghana’s largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress has once again expressed its disapproval of the Electoral Commission’s decision to use the Ghana Card only as the sole document for the new voter registration.
Laying their demands bare to the press at its headquarters on 20th September 2022, Chairman of the party, Yaw Ofosu Ampofo said “the Electoral Commissions decision threatens the sustenance of democracy and peace in our country”.
Seeking to explain further how the Electoral Commission is undermining democracy, he quoted the Public Election Registration of voters instrument (13) states that “A person who applies for registration as a voter shall provide as evidence the National Identity Card issued by the National Identification Authority”.
Chairman Ampofo said that “this move by the EC is clear on the face that only the Ghana Card can be used as proof for registration and radically change a regime of providing a person’s identity registration purpose”.
Quoting the current regulation in place to back his claims, IE (126), ”the person who qualifies as a voter shall provide his or her identity card, passport or registration form of two voters within the community”.
He added that “the EC seeks to do eliminate the two other forms of identity which is the passport and guarantee system, leaving the Ghana card as the only form of identification”.
The second implication of what the EC seeks to do according to Chairman Ampofo flouts Article 42 of the Constitution of Ghana which states that if the person is 18 years and of sound mind can vote which makes the EC decision unconstitutional.
Making his case further he said, “what this is that most prospective voters will be radically disenfranchised through no fault of theirs have not been able to acquire Ghana and denied the right for them in Article 42 of the 1992 constitution”.
Chairman Ampofo also stated that is why the 1992 constitution made a provision for a guarantee system and any new CI that undermines it would leave people disenfranchised
“Article 45 E also enjoins the EC to undertake programs for the expansion of the voter register given the above provision we are of the view that the proposal in the new CI is unconstitutional to the extent that it serves as a fetter on citizens’ right to register and exercise their franchise in elections.”
This, Chairman Ampofo complained, is at variance with the constitutional mandate on programs to expand the registration of voters.
“At present, statistics currently show that about 2 million Ghanaians are yet to acquire their Ghana card which has been fraught with challenges and the NIA has missed several deadlines to complete registration of citizens.”
Referring to Prof Attafuah, the NIA Executive Director’s press briefing on 16th September 2022 where he indicated that although they have the mandate to register Ghanaians 15 years and above if you look at the performance they cannot guarantee that registering all Ghanaians at the moment as it is physically and technically possible.
The NDC also expressed surprise at the EC telling the NIA to expedite the registration of Ghanaians, the says the EC does not have the power to do so.
Mr Ampofo added, “In this circumstance, therefore, making the Ghana card the sole document will deny millions of Ghanaians the right to vote”.
They, therefore, recommend that if the EC has clear intentions regarding the continuous registration they should rather come up with an amendment to the existing CI
This will move any lingering doubt that the EC wants to jettison the current register.
“Claims by the EC that the CI is only for continues registration is not only false but mischievous,” Chairman Ampofo.
“Since our return to democracy in 1992 of which 8 elections have been held, we have striven to do our best.”
Chairman Ampofo also complained about the lack of consensus and respect for parties opposed to the government at IPAC by the Jean Mensah-led EC. He accused them of their penchant for policies that inure to the benefit of the New Patriotic Party.
Chairman Ampofo said, “the alarm bells sounded immediately the EC decided to compile new voters register because NPP wanted it and shore up numbers in NPP stronghold and reduced in NDC stronghold”.
All these, Mr Ampofo claimed were aimed at rigging the 2020 election before the first ballot was cast and that is why the NDC boycotted IPAC as it refused to be part of a place that will rubber stamp decisions.
“It is, for this reason, we are cautioning the EC to be mindful of its actions as they have a far-reaching implication on peace of our country,” he warned.
He indicated that “the current posture of the EC reinforces the NDC‘s suspicion of collusion between the NPP and the EC to rig the 2024 election”.
Mr Ofosu Ampofo indicated that the NDC will use all available means to resist any attempt by the EC and NPP government to rig the 2024 elections.
“As a party with a legitimate interest in the elections and given the high stakes of the 2024 elections, we are simply unwilling to allow any manipulations before, during or after those elections, and we will demand the strictest standards in the processes leading up to the elections.” Chairman Ampofo.
They, therefore, called on the EC to abandon the idea of introducing the new CI since it has not been tabled before parliament else they will mobilize more Ghanaians to wage a campaign against the EC for its attempts to strip large sections of Ghanaians off their right to vote.