THE Electoral Commission (EC) has justified its decision to limit the registration centres in the upcoming limited voter registration exercise to its district offices across the country.
Unlike in the past where centres were based on electoral areas, the Commission has decided to limit the upcoming exercise to its 254 offices from about 6000 electoral areas in the run up to the 2020 elections.
The decision has irked opposition political parties, led by the National Democratic Congress, who argue that limiting the centres to the district offices of the Commission would disenfranchise potential voters, especially rural ones, due to the distance they would have to travel to get to the district offices of the EC.
But the Chairperson of the Commission, Mrs Jean Mensah, speaking with journalists after appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee in Accra yesterday to answer questions on the Auditor-General’s report on the Commission, said the fears of the political parties were unfounded.
According to Mrs Mensah, the Commission used the same approach in the run up to the December 27, 2018 referendum which created six new regions and has since not received any complaint about how far or near the centres had been to potential registrants.
“In the recent past when we were conducting the referendum, the registrations were held in the district offices and there were no complaints. I haven’t seen a Ghanaian coming to complain yet that the offices are far away from them.”
Asked if she sees no merit in the concerns of the opposition parties that the proximity of the centres could disenfranchise potential voters, Mrs Mensah said: “I do not believe so at all.”
The law, she noted, mandates the Commission to prepare for the conduct of such exercises as it deemed it fit and “at this present time, the Commission is of the view that the exercises should be held at its district offices”.
The offices of the Commission at the district level, she said, would be opened for continuous registration even after the limited exercise revealing that “day-in day-out, our Internally Generated Funds (IGF) accounts are fat because we have people on daily basis registering”.
Admitting that some potential registrants could have challenges with mobility to the district offices of the Commission, Mrs Mensah said arrangements have been made to provide such communities with transport to convey them to and from the centres.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI