The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has found loopholes in the Electoral Commission’s drafted Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) which is expected to regulate the upcoming continuous voter registration exercise if passed by Parliament.
During a Press conference earlier this week, the National Chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo said the proposed C.I. seeks to undermine the country’s democracy.
He said, “Upon a careful study of the draft regulations, we have discovered that Regulation 1(3) states that “A person who applies for registration as a voter shall provide as evidence of identification the National Identity Card issued by National Identification Authority.”
By this, he said, the EC seeks to eliminate the two other proof of identity for registration that is, the Ghana passport and the guarantee system, leaving the Ghana Card as the only means of identification.
Additionally, he said this will disenfranchise a lot of people.
“This clearly makes the proposed provision unconstitutional. What it means is that if the C.I. is passed in its current form, it will not only be unconstitutional, it will radically disenfranchise all those prospective voters who for no fault of theirs are unable to obtain the national ID card issued by the NIA. They would have been denied the right provided for them under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution”.
The NDC also faulted Regulation 2 (1) and (2) of the proposed C.I. which respectively state that “The Commission shall designate the District Office and any place it considers appropriate as a registration centre” and “In designating a place as a registration centre, the Commission shall take into consideration the accessibility of the place to prospective applicants for registration”.
“First, it would, if implemented, make voter registration extremely difficult for citizens who are residents in areas where the District Offices, located usually in the District Capital, are far from the surrounding villages where potential applicants live. In such situations, the cost of travel alone can be a disincentive to registration. In contrast, if the prevailing practice of using the polling stations, or in a worst-case scenario, the electoral area, which are usually located within walking distance of the residences of voters is employed, this problem would not arise at all.
“Secondly, registrations conducted at the District Offices will entail assigning polling stations to the registrants at the point of registration, but the registrant will not know the
physical location of her polling station at the point of registration. Given the high levels of illiteracy in the country, this will create utter confusion on election day as such voters may
find it difficult locating their voting centres for purposes of voting.
“Thirdly, the more egregious of the problems potentially associated with this measure is the possibility of gerrymandering engineered by registration officials. Gerrymandering is the act of manipulating electoral boundaries in a bid to favour one party”, the NDC said.
Source: opemsuo.com/Hajara Fuseini