A group of opposition political parties known as the Inter-Party Resistance Against New Voter Register have planned to stage three different demonstration exercises against the Electoral Commission to protest the compilation of a new voters’ register ahead of the 2020 general elections.
The decision to compile a new register has been met with criticisms by these interested parties and other stakeholders, as well as a section of the public.
Addressing the press yesterday, [Monday, January 6, 2020], the Founder of the All People’s Congress (APC), Hassan Ayariga, said the exercise by the EC is aimed at disenfranchising some electorates, hence their decision to undertake series of actions to convey their disapproval of the decision by the EC.
The group is made up of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), People’s National Convention (PNC), United Progressive Party (UPP), All People’s Congress (APC) and United Front Party (UFP).
January 11, 21 and 28 are the days the group has set to stage the demonstrations in Tamale, Kumasi and Accra respectively.
“We hold the view that any attempt to spend an additional cedi of Ghana’s tax payer’s money on a new register will amount to complete wastage and needless spending of limited state resources,” said Hassan Ayariga.
“The Coalition would embark on a demonstration on Saturday January 11, in Tamale at the Jubilee Park dubbed ‘Tikusayi Korinfohili’ Demonstration. We shall follow this up with the Yenpini Demonstration in Kumasi on Tuesday, January 21, and climax it with the Wokpεnεε Demonstration in Accra on Tuesday, January 28,” he added.
The EC, in its move to compile a new voters’ register, requested for a GH¢444,846,663 budgetary approval from Parliament.
Officials of the EC have justified the decision to compile a new voters’ register claiming the current one is bloated.
They also defended the decision to introduce a new biometric verification system claiming the current one is deficient.
Addressing the media in December 2019, EC Deputy Chairman in-charge of Operations, Mr Samuel Tettey, noted that the new biometric system will have a facial recognition technology to be deployed in cases where the devices are unable to verify fingerprints of voters.
“The Commission intends to reduce the increasingly high identification failure rate by using a new software to improve fingerprint capturing and image quality. The current biometric voter device and the biometric voter registration kits are challenged by their inability to do biometric fingerprints,” he said.
“There is no doubt that the voters’ register is bloated. The bloat is that we have not developed an effective way of cleaning the register. The bloating increases the cost of organizing elections. This causes a lot of waste because the EC procures materials with regards to the number of registered voters. The number of registered voters exceeds actual voters,” Mr Tettey added.
But Hassan Ayariga insisted that the reason for the compilation of a new register is untenable.
“We have a problem with this unjustified fixation on the replacement of a register a fit for all solutions to all the problems of the EC despite the inherent challenges with the use of facial recognition technologies. Our experts have indicated that it can be incorporated into the current register, especially as the current register contains high-resolution photos of voters. This IT solution, therefore, renders the argument of the EC mute, untenable and unacceptable,” Ayariga argued.
He further called on the EC to update its system instead of abandoning it for a new one.
“We maintain our support for the upgrade of the current register and demand that the EC considers saving the nation’s resources for other social and economic development projects,” he said.
NDC on new register
The NDC from the inception of the Electoral Commission’s decision to introduce a new voter’s register has kicked against it fully.
On the back of this, the Deputy General Secretary of the NDC Peter Boamah Otokunor said it was unnecessary for the government to spend such amount on compiling a new register while there are bigger problems to be solved, hence, called for its rejection.
President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe has also described the EC’s decision as reckless.
“Presumably, for a big announcement like this, all parties should be on board. It looks as if this is quite a reckless means of communicating a major decision that had not been thought through properly by all parties,” he said.
NPP on new register
Meanwhile, the governing New Patriotic Party has welcomed the Electoral Commission’s decision to compile a new voter’s register ahead of the national polls this year.
In recent developments, the NPP blamed the NDC’s resistance of the new voters’ register on their fear of losing the 2020 general elections.
EC still to introduce register
Amidst all these concerns from various political parties and groups, the EC still stands by its decision to compile a new register.
Addressing the media on the issue days ago, Samuel Tettey, maintained that: “…Again, the Commission will go ahead with the preparation of a new biometric voters’ register based on the reasons provided earlier.”