The Electoral Commission (EC) has expressed confidence in the guarantor system which is expected to be used by persons who do not have the Ghana Card or the Ghana Passport during the voter registration exercise starting tomorrow [Tuesday].
At a press conference on Monday evening, the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, reminded that it had been a trusted part of the registration process over the years despite being burdensome.
“We understand that it may seem like a burden having to find two registered persons to vouch for one’s identity as a Ghanaian and yet it seems to be the lesser of two evils.”
“Although it may take a little more of your time and that of your guarantors, it will ensure that only persons who are guarantors and are 18 years old are enlisted on the voters register,” she said.
The Public Election (Amendment) regulation, 2020 (C.I. 126) amended C.I 91 changed the current identification requirements for registering to vote.
Aside from the National Identification Card (Ghana Card) or the Ghana passport being acceptable documents for registering onto the voters register, two persons who have already been captured on the new register can vouch for others to register.
Critics have noted that exclusion of the existing voter ID and birth certificates could lead to some citizens being disenfranchised.
Despite these concerns, the popularity of the guarantor system should mitigate these fears, Mrs. Mensa noted.
“This system has been with us since the beginning of our democracy as the framers of the law anticipated situations in which Ghanaian citizens, for legitimate and unavoidable reasons be unable to prove or provide documentation to prove their citizenship.”
Giving examples, she noted that in 2014, 928,540 persons were registered by the commission of which 82.2 percent used the guarantor system.
In 2016, 1,046,067 were registered of which 92.5 percent used guarantors.
In continuous registration in 2016, 37,929 persons were registered and of this number 93.1 percent used guarantors.
For the referendum in 2018, 47,852 persons were registered by the commission of which 99.5 percent used guarantors.
During the limited registration in 2019, 1,211,395 persons were captured by the EC of which 95.2 percent of used guarantors.
“My predecessors have applied this system in the past as they have sought to ensure that no one is disenfranchised for valid reasons beyond their control,” Mrs. Mensa assured.
In spite of how essential the guarantor system has been, the EC Boss hopes this system becomes a thing of the past.
She expects the Ghana Card registration to “become routine at the national, regional and district levels.”
“I hope and pray that the 2020 election should be the last time that we as a country would need the guarantor system. Come 2020, all citizens should be issued with the National Identification Card.”