The Executive Director of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe has downplayed the Electoral Commission’s (EC) justification for the compilation of a new voters’ register.
The EC is bent on compiling a new register over claims that the existing one is not credible enough for the polls.
Director of Elections at the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe had earlier insisted that the current register should be replaced to make it more capable of tackling the verification challenges that occur on election day, given experiences from past elections.
Mr. Cudjoe, however, disagreed, saying the EC’s explanations for the compilation of a new register is not tenable.
“The basis for saying that the biometric verification machines were obsolete on the face of the EC’s own continuous investment plan which was approved by the Finance Ministry anyway, and its own usage of the systems, cannot be true.”
“All I am saying is that the argument being advanced that the current register is fraught with a lot of errors cannot hold water. What we are saying is that you cannot tell every Ghanaian that something that delivered elections in December, all of them are gone,” he said on Citi TV/FM’s The Big Issue.
Mr. Cudjoe was concerned that the EC was bent on making a request for amendments to be made to the laws governing elections in Ghana when the NIA had not yet completed its registration exercise.
“I think the EC has not done itself any good by this whole penchant for expunging the old voters’ ID from the system. This whole point about we need to discard the existing ID card when in actual fact, the NIA is yet to distribute not less than 6 million cards and even continue the registration. As of the passports, I do not want to even talk about it.”
EC releases safety protocols for voter registration exercise
Franklin Cudjoe’s concerns come at a time when the EC has published precautionary measures it has put in place ahead of the registration exercise.
The process to compile a new roll has currently been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among other things, it will be mandatory to wear face masks at the registration centres, people’s temperature will be checked before one is allowed into the registration centre and there will be running water available for handwashing, according to an artwork posted on the Commission’s social media pages.
Queues are to have one-metre gaps between persons lining up to register, the scanners will be sanitised and persons who complete the registration process will also be provided with hand sanitiser before they leave the centre.
The EC has been under fire over its move to discard its old voter management system in favour of a newer system which will among other things have a facial recognition ability.
The new Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS) has necessitated the compilation of a new electoral roll to better address verification challenges that could occur during elections.
Resistance from Minority
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu has said his side will resist any attempt by the EC to register citizens for a new register amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The context is, don’t just think about your staff, think about the health, safety and lives of citizens who will be queueing for the purpose of getting registered,” Mr. Iddrisu said in a Citi News interview.
The Minority also questioned the priorities of the government and the EC amid the novel coronavirus pandemic because of the allocation of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to the commission.