EC’s disorderly argument for new voter register worrying – Franklin Cudjoe

President of Policy Think Tank IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, has described the Electoral Commission’s (EC) argument for a new register as disorderly and unfortunate.

Mr Franklin Cudjoe said the disorderly and unplanned nature of the arguments being advanced by the EC for a new register is worrying.

The EC is bent on compiling a new register despite opposition from some political parties and civil society organizations over claims that the existing one is not credible enough for the 2020 polls.

The Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensah, addressing a forum in Accra organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Ghana indicated that the compilation of a new voters’ register is motivated by the Commission’s desire to ensure a credible general election.

She further argued that “a bloat in our register could have dire consequences for any election and as a people, we should go to an election with a mindset that it has to be credible. We should leave no room for manipulation and I believe that that is the essence of a biometric register.”

“It is our desire that we leave no room for manipulation at the polling stations because, under the current situation, any manipulation could have dire consequences for our election in the sense that it could change the outcome of an election and these are some of the reasons that informed our decision to compile a new register” she added.

Speaking on The Big Issue, Franklin Cudjoe, however, said the EC’s reasons for a new electoral roll lack certainty.

“The very disorderly nature in which the EC is presenting its case is quite worrying. First, they said the machines were at their end of life; 7-year life cycle, didn’t hear that yesterday right? Then they came telling us that with the election if we did the limited registration it would be much higher than the full registration, we also defeated that with evidence from their own investment plans and previous expenditure on limited registration; and it wasn’t true that the limited registration would cost $80 million or that it cost $80 million dollars in 2014 or 2010; those are not true.

“Now, the argument then shifted. Currently, she is saying that with the last district elections, out of 5.4 million people who voted, 35,000 were manually verified and that is 0.64% which means that 99.63% of the district elections were credible; they were efficient with the same machines. And don’t forget that with the same machines, the elections were 93% efficient in 2016 and in 2012 it was 67% efficient so clearly speaking there has been some improvement” he added.

According to the IMANI Africa President, the decision of the EC to only come up with new reasons for their decision to compile a new electoral roll only when their existing excuses have been defeated is unfortunate.

“And then all of a sudden, we are hearing another reason for them not using the machine to be that they are limited in some sort. This started not today but have we heard this argument? The EC started by saying the machines were dead and then all of a sudden, close to the elections we are being told that the vendor threatened that there is the shelf life of 6 years and that if they didn’t allow them, the machines will break down. Even my two-year-old kid will not believe this and all their reasons do not hold water. They never said the register was bloated until we defeated their given excuses. It is very unfortunate.”

Action against EC

Two civil society groups; the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) and IMANI Africa have also petitioned the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to call on the EC to rescind its decision to compile a new electoral roll for the 2020 general elections.

The Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, unsuccessfully moved for the rejection of the EC’s move to change forms of identification in Parliament.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is currently battling the EC on the exclusion of the old voters’ ID.

The EC presented the Public Election (Amendment) Regulation, 2020 (C.I. 126) to Parliament to amend C.I. 91 in order to change the current identification requirements.

On June 9, Parliament subsequently voted to allow the EC to use the Ghana Card and Passports as the only forms of identification for persons registering to vote after relevant Constitutional Instrument had matured.

The party has argued that this amendment will lead to many Ghanaians being disenfranchised.

The opposition party’s case will be settled on June 23 ahead of the compilation of the register on June 30.

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