EC, NIA Set TO Disenfranchise Over 5 million Ghanaians In December Elections

Data from the National Identification Authority (NIA) shows that up to 5 million Ghanaians are likely to be prevented from voting in the December general elections because the NIA has refused to issue them with National identification cards needed to register in the proposed new voters’ register by the Electoral Commission.
The EC on Monday (March 16, 2020) sent a proposal to Parliament for the enactment of the Constitutional Instrument (CI) CI 126 seeking to amend Regulation 1 make only holders of NIA cards and Ghanaians passports to register to vote in the new voters register.
This will mean holders of previous voters ID cards cannot renew their legitimacy in the new register. Incidentally, on the NIA’s website, it claims it has printed 10.7 million cards and has issued only 7.09 million national ID cards to Ghanaians, yet, there are about 15.8 million people with the old voters’ ID card on the current voters register that the EC is planning to get rid of.
This means the some eight (8) million Ghanaians would lose the ability to vote in December, despite having been issued a voters ID card in 2016. This huge potentially disenfranchised Ghanaians are the difference between those currently holding voters ID cards and those who have been issued with NIA cards.
A curious breakdown shows that there are more people issued with NIA cards in the traditional political strongholds of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) than the stronghold of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
 
For instance, the NIA has issued 2.5 million cards in the Ashanti Region-the main stronghold of the NPP. The Ashanti Region has a total of 2.9 million people holding the current voters’ ID card. This means that by December if the NIA is unable to issue more cards, about 400,000 people in the Ashanti Region would be disenfranchised.
On the other hand, the Volta Region (the NDC political stronghold) has about 1.3 million people holding the current voters’ card, but the NIA has only issued 568,265 cards. This means that despite the smaller size of the voting population in the Volta Region in comparison to the Ashanti Region, the Volta Region is likely to lose up to 800,000 voters if the NIA does not issue more cards in that region. This is twice as much potential disenfranchisement in the NDC stronghold than the NPP stronghold.
Governance think-tank Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) makes a conservative estimation that a total of some 1.5 million eligible voters in Ghana will potentially get disenfranchised by the draconian provisions in the CI 126
 
“We therefore recommend that the Electoral Commission study the demographics of this Country seriously and make informed amendments to the CI. 126 to allow the use of Voter’s ID Card,” ASEPA said in a statement copied to Whatsup News.
“This would not only reduce the risk of litigation, it would also reduce the risk of potential violence and chaos at the Registration Centres which could be very detrimental especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ASEPA noted.
The EC argues that it is taking these stringent measures because the current voters’ register is “bloated”, however experts have rubbished this claim.
 
“A demographic analysis does not really support the “bloating” theory of our voter register.  The “demographic structure” argument (the number of voters in relation to the total population and in relation to the age spread) is usually made to suggest that the “bloating” is recent and that it benefits specific parties,” noted Bright Simons, an executive member of the governance think-tank IMANI.
“…the rise and fall of registered voter numbers is quite arbitrary as far as the data is concerned, ‘peaking’ and ‘troughing’ when different parties win at the polls.”

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