The Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) has directed its officers to register new voters offline if they encounter difficulty with the registration system in the ongoing Limited Voter Registration exercise.
This followed reports of network connectivity challenges related to the online registration system which delayed the registration process in some centres on Tuesday morning.
The EC had explained that the online registration system would make it possible to immediately detect double the registration at the point of registration.
Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, Director of Electoral Services at the EC, said that there were “initial hitches” with the system on the first day.
He said the situation would normalize as the exercise progressed.
“We have asked the officers to switch offline if they encounter challenges.
“All those registered offline, the system will review their identities and if their names appear on the multiple list they will not vote,” Dr. Quaicoe said.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused the Electoral Commission of plotting with the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to rig the 2024 General Elections.
According to the Deputy National Youth Organizer of the party, Osman Ayariga, the Commission is in bed with the NPP to rig the coming elections.
Mr Ayariga accused the EC of deliberately deploying faulty machines to NDC’s strongholds.
He insisted that this attempt is to suppress votes in the 2024 general elections.
The National Chairman of the opposition party, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, had earlier on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at a press conference accused the Commission of making the voter registration process difficult at its strongholds.
“We are ready, very ready but we care for the poor registrants who must cater for the costs and constraints of being registered to vote. We currently have our agents and officers in all 268 district offices of the Electoral Commission countrywide and we are keenly and actively monitoring the process,” he said.
Mr. Nketiah said he would make sure that the manipulation of the EC and the NPP to “rig the process are defeated and defeated soundly.”
The ongoing limited voter registration is targeted to register over 1.3 million persons who have turned 18 years old since the last registration exercise in 2020.
The 21-day exercise began on Tuesday, September 12, and is scheduled to end on Monday, October 2.
The Electoral Commission commenced the limited voter registration regardless of a suit filed by five opposition political parties.
The parties, which include the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Convention People’s Party (CPP), All People’s Congress (APC), Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) and the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), filed an application for an interlocutory injunction to restrict the EC from conducting the exercise at its district offices.
The parties believe that the EC’s decision to restrict the exercise to its district offices would deprive many eligible voters who turned 18 years old after the 2020 general elections their right to register to vote in public elections.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for the Madina Constituency, Francis Xavier Sosu has described the exercise as a disaster in his Constituency.
He accused the government of manipulating the process to rig the 2024 general elections.
“What the EC is doing we believe is part of a grand scheme by the NPP administration to suppress votes where they think it is the stronghold of the NDC and we will not allow that to happen.
“In Madina here, we have told them that if they want to do this exercise in peace because we are for peace but if they want war we shall give them war that is what we want them to know,” he stated.
The NDC lawmaker urged the EC to put pragmatic measures in place to salvage the situation to avert possible chaotic scenes at registration centers.
He reiterated that NDC would monitor the exercise keenly to ensure EC does the right thing.
On Friday, March 31, 2023, Parliament by unanimous decision rejected the Electoral Commission’s Constitutional Instrument (CI) seeking to make the Ghana card the sole registration document for voting.
This follows a presentation of a report of the Committee of the Whole on the draft Public Elections Regulations, 2023, and other related issues.
It indicated that the House’s position was not to accept the provisions of the proposed CI.
“The Committee, having thoroughly interrogated the issues and reforms being contemplated by the EC, would like to reiterate its support for any effort that is geared towards making the EC use the Ghana card because it is the law,” the report outlined.
The Committee however stressed that it would no accept and would reject any effort that is geared towards making the EC use the Ghana card as the only medium to qualify a person who is eligible to vote in the 2024 elections.
Debating the report in Parliament, MPs from both sides highlighted the dangers of the proposed CI. They cautioned the EC to desist from the move to push it through until there is certainty that members who have registered with the NIA have been issued with their Ghana cards.
The Electoral Commissioner, Jean Mensah had insisted that the draft with its provisions which includes the use of the Ghana card as the sole source of identification for voters is relevant to the electoral process.
Presenting the draft statement on the floor of Parliament, Jean Mensah maintained that the proposal seeks to promote a continuous registration of new voters as well as clean the electoral system of unqualified individuals.
The CI met stiff opposition from the minority in Parliament rejecting the move doubting the NIA’s capacity to issue Ghana cards who have registered before the 2024 elections.