New Patriotic Party stalwart, kitchen cabinet member and a cousin to President Akufo Addo, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko has expressed worry about the timing of the Electoral Commission (EC) deciding to compile a new voters register.
According to him, the EC has failed to address concerns raised by civil society groups and some opposition political parties about the short-notice nature of the exercise.
“The EC has made a strong case (on cost and integrity) for a new register. But, for me, concerns about timing still not well addressed” Mr. Otchere-Darko tweeted on Saturday, January 11.
Mr. Asare Otchere-Darko’s concern also whips up a disturbing possibility from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). The GSS is mandated to conduct a national population census this year-around March 2020.
The EC will need data from the GSS exercise before it can compile a new register. However, last week, the Government Statistician, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, alerted that the process of collating population data “might delay by a month or two” due to technical challenges.
“There are alternatives to having to do a
new one. The big issue is time because there is a census in March. Ideally, if
there is a census you’ll normally wait for the census to have the right numbers
to estimate how many people you have to register,” Prof. Pumpuni explained
in a media interview monitored by Whatsup News.
“If it comes in March it means it is going to delay when the Voters Register starts. If you’re going to have new machines new systems then it is going to be harder given the time periods and to build confidence going into an election” he said.
The EC has insisted on compiling the new register despite massive opposition to the plan by some civil society groups and opposition political parties.
The Ghanaian Parliament recently authorised a release of about GHC 400 million to the EC to go ahead with the new system.
However, several civil society groups and opposition political parties have vowed to resist any attempt to compile a new register. Some of the parties in opposition like the National Democratic Congress (NDC) claim the time was too short and that it may inspire the EC to manipulate the system to favour the incumbent NPP.
However, the election regulator led by Jean Mensah claims that the current voters’ register cannot be used because it is bloated and can only be cleaned by compiling an entirely new one.
However, it was that same register that the EC used to recently conduct two successful elections, The District Assemblies election and the referendum for the six new regions. Indeed, independent election observers CODEO issued a report that the biometric system and the register functioned over 90 per cent accurate.
The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) which recently condemned the EC’s plan, has said, the reasons given by the EC to justify a new register is not tenable.