The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has headed to court over the raging controversy around plans by the Electoral Commission (EC) to blow some US$ 200 million for a new biometric voters system.
The NDC insists that there is no basis for the EC to decide on compiling a new voters register and deploying a new system. The NDC has not been alone in this criticism, several civil society groups, individuals and opposition political parties have kicked against the new register.
However, the NDC says it is initiating the suit to take their opposition a notch higher.
According to the NDC, the EC lacks the power to go ahead with its plans because it can only “compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law.”
The Attorney General has also been cited as a defendant in the case.
In the writ to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the opposition NDC among other things demanded a “declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, the EC has the constitutional power to, and can, compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law.
“Accordingly, 2nd Defendant can only revise the existing register of voters, and lacks the power to prepare a fresh register of voters, for the conduct of the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections,” excerpts of the writ read.
Additionally, the NDC is challenging the rationale for the EC to propose barring people with old voters cards from using them as evidence of eligibility for the new voting system they are proposing.
In that regard, the NDC is seeking a “declaration that the 2nd Defendant [the EC], in purporting to exercise its powers pursuant to article 51 of the 1992 Constitution to exclude the existing voter identification cards from the documents required as proof of identification to enable a person register as a voter without any justification is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.”
This legal suit threatens the EC’s tight schedule of commencing compilation of the new register in April this year. Already, the process has hit a snag with the raging coronavirus Covid-19 as the President had ordered a ban on all forms of public gathering.
Even though, the EC has insisted it may disobey the order by compiling the register on the scheduled date, critics thing, the EC’s expectation may be dashed as the seriousness of the viral outbreak is yet to be fully comprehended in Ghana.
The EC has raised serious suspicions of wanting to manipulate the electoral system for the incumbent New Patriotic Party when it suddenly decided in December 2019 to abandon its current biometric verification system and procure a new one that has a facial recognition technology.
It also discredited the current voters register as bloated, even though it had used the same register for two major elections last year-the district level elections and the referendum for the six new regions.