Senior don at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ransford Gyampo, has warned that the Electoral Commission is putting the cart before the horse in its haste to compile a new voters’ register ahead of the 2020 population and housing census.
In a write-up on the raging controversy, he makes the point that the census, which is scheduled for March, is supposed to precede the compilation of a new register.
“If we want to do things right, then the EC cannot commence the registration process until the 2020 Population and Housing Census (PHC) is undertaken. This is because the PHC figures, usually accepted as more credible because of the less partisan interest in their compilation, will provide irrefutable benchmarks for the EC’s registration processes to commence. This would ensure a harmony between the PHC data and the voter registration data of the EC. Indeed, the two must speak to each other. Else, one can anticipate problems if for instance, the EC goes ahead of the PHC to register 100 people in the Ashanti region as voters, only for the PHC to show that there are only 50 voters there. So, to avoid needless suspicion and confusion, the PHC must take place first.
“But the PHC is expected to be held in March and it may take up to May for the results to be released. Let’s also note that the procurement of the EC’s voter registration devices may also take some time,” Prof Gyampo said.
Being a member of the Electoral Reforms committee, Prof. Gyampo who is also the Head of International Relations at the University of Ghana comes into the debate as an enlightened and more experience voice on matters of elections that Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs. Jean Mensah, who had no prior experience in overseeing elections before her appointment.
His voice comes at a time that the EC has secured Ghc444million from Parliament to undertake the compilation of a new voters’ register, a position that has led to opposition parties accusing the EC of trying to set up a rigging template to re-elect President Akufo-Addo.
The opposition have recently come together in a coalition that has programmed to hold nationwide demonstrations in protest of the new register.
In addition to pointing out that the EC is putting the cart before the horse in its attempt to compile the regiseter ahead of the census, he also pointed out that other important issues related to elections have not been factored into the EC’s fixation on changing the register.
“We are also yet to know whether ROPAA will be implemented to allow Ghanaians resident abroad to be registered to vote in the 2020 elections. There will be too much pressure on the EC and political parties, should the EC be compelled to implement ROPAA in 2020 in addition to compiling a new register,” he said.
He pointed out that even though the EC claims there are challenges with the existing register, it used it successfully for the referendum to create six new regions and the District Level elections, wondering what the challenges are that the EC cannot seem to surmount in the 2020 election.
Again, he pointed out that the EC is seeking to compile a new register at the same time that the National Identification Authority is compiling a biometric citizenship identity data base.
“As a member of the Electoral Reforms Committee, I remember we recommended the need for the EC to desist from packing activities and running crush electoral programmers in an election year to avoid needless suspicion and allow political parties some ample time to campaign. Other AU protocols support this recommendation because, it also allows for ample time to cater for the resolution of disputes, for instance, on matters of voter registration, should they arise.
“As we debate the issues of new register we must also interrogate the state of our national identification process. Is the national identity card not supposed to provide biometric information for voting? Should the biometric national identification process go on, while we quickly commence another biometric data for voting? May be, we are richer than we think, but we may have to sincerely rethink the needless duplications in our biometric identification systems,” Prof Gyampo said.