The Electoral Commission (EC) says it has taken pragmatic steps to ensure that social distancing protocols are adhered to at voter registration centers.
There has been a general breakdown in adherence at several centers around the country, leading to fears the centers might become grounds for COVID-19 spikes.
But Head of Public Affairs at the Electoral Commission, Sylvia Annor, says beginning today, Thursday, July 2, 2020, applicants will be required to form queues responsibly, amongst others.
“Registrants are supposed to come in with their nose mask but the only time applicants are to take oof their nose masks briefly is when the applicant is going to have the picture taken. Right from the word go, they wash their hands, have their temperature taken, and there has to be some social distancing. Before they leave the center. Their hands are sanitized again. We have made provisions to mark the floor of every registration center so they know where exactly they have to stand at least one meter apart.”
She further advised applicants to print personal copies of the forms used for registration from the EC’s website to help fast track the process and reduce the time spent at the centers.
“For the forms, irrespective of whether you are aged or not, you can go to www.ec.gov.gh. It is open to all applicants and not only for those going to the district hospitals.”
CODEO urges cooperation
The Coalition for Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), has called on electoral stakeholders to collectivize efforts towards ensuring the compliance of COVID-19 safety protocols in the ongoing nationwide mass new voter registration exercise.
Its National Coordinator, Albert Arhin believes commitment on the side of the Electoral Commission, political actors, security agencies, among others, will go a long way to curtail the disregard for these safety measures.
But, Mr. Arhin has thus urged various interest groups to make it their responsibility in ensuring that this worrying trend is reversed.
“I will want to say that as stakeholders – politicians, political parties, EC, police officers, security persons and everybody who is involved in the exercise should all cooperate to ensure that the COVID-19 protocols are obeyed”.
According to him, a collective fight presents a rather more effective approach than leaving the enforcement process in the hands of the EC alone.
“Let us not think that, the EC, in the final analysis, should be blamed for everything that is going wrong. It is not only the EC that will be infected. The staff of the EC will be infected, the police will be infected. The policemen will be infected. So it is incumbent on all those who go to register to make sure that all the protocols are observed. It is in our own interest.”
Meanwhile, CODEO says based on its initial observations about the testing problems that have fraught the registration process, it expects the EC to make significant improvements in the coming days.
“Now, the exercise should take off smoothly after these two days. I will say those days were experiments, but now we do know the shortcomings of the machines and so registration officers should know what to do,” he added.