The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) of conniving with the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Identification Authority(NIA) to rig the 2020 elections.
According to the party, activities of the NIA and the Electoral Commission ahead of the 2020 polls are all geared towards making this possible.
The Electoral Commission has presented to Parliament a Constitutional Instrument to amend C.I 91 to make Ghana card and passports the only form of identification before one could be captured onto the yet to be compiled new voter’s register.
The NDC argues that, out of the over 17 million individuals who have registered for the Ghana card, only some 6 million have received their cards, a development the party claimed could disenfranchise many Ghanaians.
Addressing the media today, Thursday, May 14, 2020, the National Chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo argued that a lot of Ghanaians will not have the chance to register for their voter’s ID if the EC decides to proceed with its new register.
“Considering the figures that have been churned out, it shows that should the Electoral Commission decide to embark on a new voter registration, what it means is that all these people who do not have the NIA cards would have to either go and swear an affidavit or wait until some people are registered and guarantee for them. This exercise is going to be clustered and according to them, it is going to take eight days. In essence, at the end of the day, you will realize that several people will be frustrated and will not get the opportunity to be registered…That it is a deliberate attempt to suppress votes and ensure that many people as possible are unable to make themselves available.”
“Again considering the time limitations on the nation by COVID-19, this is not only impracticable so it simply defies common sense and will surely disenfranchise a lot of voters if the EC is allowed to proceed on this rather dangerous and perilous path,” Ofosu Ampofo said.
NIA prioritised Ashanti Region
Ofosu Ampofo also alleged that the National Identification Authority prioritised the Ashanti Region during its registration exercise since the region is noted to be an NPP stronghold.
He said the NIA deployed a number of its equipment to region in a bid to capture more people so the NPP could get more voters to be captured onto the yet to compiled electoral roll.
“The inclusion of the existing voter ID card in the registration requirements for the voter’s ID card and any new voter ID is imperative and non-negotiable in sharp contrast to the suppression of Ghana card registration in most regions which are known to be NDC stronghold. The Ken Attafuah-led NIA massively mobilised unprecedented number of registration equipment for the exercise in the stronghold of the ruling NPP in the Ashanti Region. It is worthy of note that, prior to the registration in the Ashanti region, an average of 2,000 registration equipment per region were deployed. However, when it got to the turn of the Ashanti Region, the NIA miraculously increased the number of equipment for the exercise to 5,692 from 2,000 which was used averaging in other regions,” he alleged.
Groups against decision
The plan to compile a new register ahead of the general elections in December has over time sparked up a lot of controversies, with many parties and groups disagreeing to the move.
The Inter-Party Resistance Against New Voter Register, a group made up of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP), People’s National Convention (PNC), Eagle Party, All People’s Party (APC), Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have on several occasions demonstrated to express their disappointment against the EC’s decision.
Eighteen Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have also rejected the Electoral Commission’s proposal to compile a new electoral roll ahead of the 2020 elections.
The CSOs are Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), IMANI Africa, SEND Ghana, Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), Financial Accountability and Transparency – Africa (FAT-Africa), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Youth Bridge Foundation, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Citizens Movement against Corruption (CMaC) and Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC).
These groups have cited the reason for their rejection as among other things, a waste of the taxpayers’ money.
They rather want the EC to update the current software rather than procuring a new one. Meanwhile, efforts to settle the differences including resorting to the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and the Electoral Commission’s Eminent Advisory Committee have proved futile.
EC puts on hold registration exercise over COVID-19
The Electoral Commission has put on hold most of its activities scheduled to be done ahead of the 2020 polls following the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Commission has subsequently assured that said it will observe the necessary protocols when it begins the compilation of a new voter’s register.
It said the necessary precautions have been put in place to ensure safety in the execution of its mandate.
“All stakeholders are hereby reminded that plans are far advanced for the compilation of new voters register with a new voter management system for the upcoming 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.”
“The Commission is however sensitive to the current state of affairs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will abide by the necessary precautions and safety protocols in the execution of its mandate when it deems it appropriate to begin the compilation of the register,” the EC clarified in its statement.