The limited voter’s registration exercise ahead of the December 2019 District Level Elections and the referendum on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives will commence on Friday, June 7 through to June 27, 2019, the Electoral Commission (EC) has announced.
The exercise, according to the election management body, will offer Ghanaians, who turned 18 since the last registration exercise as well as those who for one reason or the other have never registered, the opportunity to be registered as voters.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs Jean Mensa, said “the exercise will take place in all the district offices of the Commission using the Commission’s VMS (Voter Management System) which have been installed in the district offices of the Commission.”
Apart from the district offices of the Commission, Madam Jean Mensa said hard to reach areas would be mapped out for the exercise.
“The reason for conducting registration in the (yet -to-be) selected electoral areas is to ensure that qualified applicants located in riverine, distant and difficult to access areas who cannot take advantage of the registration at the district offices are not disenfranchised but are afforded the opportunity to register,” Mrs Mensa explained.
This approach, she said, was one of the many measures the Commission was adopting to mitigate some of the challenges associated with the exercise at the district offices.
Documents required for an applicant to make it onto the register include a Ghanaian passport, a drivers’ licence, a national identification card, non-biometric voter’s card and a voter registration identification guarantee form that has been completed and signed by two registered voters.
Following the review of the recent limited voter’s registration exercise at the offices of the Commission ahead of the December 2018 refrendum, Mrs Mensa said measures have been put in place to contain the likely challenges that may be encountered.
The measures include the provision of standby generators to power the system in case of power outages, extension of registration time beyond 6pm in the event of long queues, and a possible extension of the duration “if there is evidence that a number of Ghanaians were unable to do so for valid reasons.”
To address the challenge of insufficient VMS kits, Mrs Mensa said the number of kits expected to have high turnout have been increased from between two to eight, adding that “priority will be given to applicants who travel long distances to the district offices.”
Disclosing that the Commission had put in place a comprehensive publicity campaign to inform and educate citizens and to ensure that the exercise was successful, the EC Chair said “registration materials needed for the exercise have been procured and are ready for distribution to the regions and the districts.”
The decision by the Commission to undertake the exercise at the district level instead of electoral areas basis as the case has been in the past was met with resistance by the political parties who argued that qualified voters, especially those in rural areas, would be disenfranchised.
But Mrs Mensa said the fears of the political parties were unfounded because the Commission used the same process in the limited registration exercise ahead of the referendum that led to the creation of the six new regions but had received no complaints.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI