CSO kicks against new register; petitions CHRAJ
A civil society organisation, ADAM-GH has petitioned the Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over the new voter compilation exercise soon to be organised by the Electoral Commission.
The group wants CHRAJ to intervene in the impasse between the EC and some political parties on one hand, and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some other political parties including some civil society organisations/groups on the other hand.
The EC has said it will complete its proposed new voters register for the December election by close of May.
The decision to compile a new voters roll has raked up considerable controversy.
While some political parties including the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) support the call for a new register, others like the NDC are strongly against it.
Civil society is also divided over the matter.
ADAM-GH in its petition is seeking that: “the compilation of the new voter register should be rejected without any consideration of any sort. Again, the idea of using only national identification authority cards and Ghana passport without considering current biometric voters ID card and other documents such as existing birth certificates can be a fertile ground to disenfranchise many Ghanaians or voters their constitutional right to register and vote which can lead to political violence.”
Read full petition below:
ADAM-GH HAS PETITIONED COMMISSIONER ON HUMAN RIGHT AND ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE (CHRAJ) OVER NEW VOTER'S REGISTER.
PETITION AGAINST THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION (E.C) ON COMPILATION OF A NEW VOTER REGISTER AND THE DOCUMENTS OF PROOF OF GHANAIAN CITIZENSHIP.
Anchoring Democracy Advocacy Movement Ghana ADAM-GH is a civil society organization that anchors proper Democratic principles, protect Ghana’s Democracy,
the rule of law, fight corruption and to ensure peace and security of our country.
Sir ADAM GH write to appeal to you for intervention in the impasse between the electoral commission and some political parties on one hand, and the NDC and some other political parties including some civil society organizations/groups, of which we associate ourselves with, on the other hand. ADAM GH really appreciate the major role played by your high office CHRAJ enhancing the scale of good governance, Ghana's Democracy, integrity, ensuring peace and security and social development by enforcing fundamental human rights and freedom and administering justice for all persons in Ghana. Ghanaians are so grateful to your dedicated service to our country however; we still look up to you to use your high office to protect our cherished Democracy for the future generation.
The issues are in two folds. one has to do with compilation of a new voter register for the upcoming 2020 general elections. The other has to do with the base document(s) of proof of citizenship.
ADAM-GH is seeking that; the compilation of the new voter register should be rejected without any consideration of any sort. Again, the idea of using only national identification authority cards and Ghana passport without considering current biometric voters ID card and other documents such as existing birth certificates can be a fertile ground to disenfranchise many Ghanaians or voters their constitutional right to register and vote which can lead to political violence.
We humbly submit our reasons why we think these exercises must be halted and are catalogued in “A” and “B” as follows:
A: COMPILATION OF A NEW VOTER REGISTER
THE COMMISSION’S EARLIER STANCE: - The Commission had earlier made us understand that the current voter register is CREDIBLE before and after 2018 Referendum that gave birth to the Six newly created Regions and 2019 District level elections. The Commission reported that out of 5,431,902 total votes cast, 5,397,059 representing 99.4% of all votes cast in the District level elections were biometrically verified. 34,843 representing 0.6% voted manually without verification due to low battery at some areas and other factors. This, however, indicates that the BVDs performed excellently with just 0.6% deviation. This fact is clearly indicated in their election results report. We believe that if the EC has these super functioning devices that performed such magic in December, 2019, nothing could have occasioned the outright rejection of such a robust device in a spade of only one month after the elections in December. Therefore, we are of the opinion that, if logic is anything to go by, there is no way anybody should consider a wholesale compilation rather than mopping up the excess population because no new system can give 100% delivery without Technical Challenges.
TIME CONSTRAINT:- The Commission’s own roadmap/calendar to finish the compilation of a complete voter register by 7th November, 2020 if it started on 12th April, 2020. Unfortunately, with the advent of Covid-19 the exercise is already lagging two months and still counting. Logically, a yet to compile register that is needed for elections in December 2020 cannot be produced without huge controversies, more so when the Commission intends to undertake this enormous exercise using the cluster approach rather than dealing with each polling station uniquely. It is also worth noting that, the just ended piloting of the intended new voter registration was fraught with technological challenges nationwide. Your Excellency, please, imaging if what happened in Takoradi where the machines could not work a whole day replicate in any Region, Constituency or Polling station/center, how devastating or chaotic that could be even as the number of registration days are not sufficient for such an exercise in this covid 19 pandemic era.
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC SPREAD:- The whole world is battling with a novel corona virus pandemic which has no cure or vaccine. It is this pandemic that has been able to redirect every planned activity world over, including but not limited to popular activities such as Christians Easter Celebration, Muslim Pilgrimage journey to the holy land Mecca, sporting activities like Olympic games, UEFA Championship, Champions League, other major leagues, WAEC suspending its long standing examination time table history and closure of schools at all levels. The main reasoning behind all these moves is to physically distancing to avoid crowding which is the conduit for the spread of the disease that can lead to fatalities as evidenced in USA, Italy, Brazil and many other countries in the world. ADAM GH believe that, knowing and having observed registration exercises in the country severally, any attempt to try to register a projected 18 million prospective voters in this pandemic period where Ghana’s corona virus count is on ascendancy and currently stands at 9,168 with 42 Deaths as at 05/06/20 will spell doom for this country. Hence, under this new normal, the exercise should not be allowed to endanger the lives of our citizens.
B: PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP TO REGISTER
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF CITIZENS: Your Highness, we know that the right to vote is enshrined in the 1992 Constitution. Article 42 of the Constitution of Ghana says that: “Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.”
Therefore, only the following four conditions are required by the constitution for a person to vote in an election or referendum: (i) proof of citizenship, (ii) proof that you are 18 years or older, (iii) proof of sound mind, and (iv) your name appears in the voters’ register. Upon these demands, The Commission has laid a Constitutional Instrument, CI 127 which seeks to define who a Ghanaian citizen is during the upcoming voter registration. According to the CI, if it is allowed to go through, the definition of a Ghanaian is rewritten to mean only those who hold (a) Ghanaian Passport and (b) National Identification Card, called Ghana Card. ADAM GH worry on these two documents is that, there are not too many Ghanaians who have the passport. Our checks from the passport office indicate that holders of valid passports are a little over 2 million. However, granted the 2 million are all adults, how many reside in Ghana should be another concern to worry. We are also aware that there are numerous occasions where it has been reported in the news about foreigners arrested using Ghanaian passports. Ironically, a Passport is a by-product of Birth Certificate, so if passport can authenticate a Ghanaian citizenship what happens to the source document of the passport?
Again, using the inconclusive Ghana Card as a basis for voter registration in its current state is an attempt to disenfranchising a huge voter population for no fault of theirs. The registration of this Ghana Card has not been conclusive as we speak. There is not a single district in this country that has an office for National Identification Authority (NIA) for a walk in when one needs their assistance. We are also aware that the NIA registration has not covered a half of the projected population as at today. Even in Eastern Region the exercise had to halt as a result of covid-19 spread. We have just been informed that the registration officers of NIA are preparing to move to various stations to continue registration in the Eastern Region and a mop-up in the other Regions across the country. Our question is, why the rush?
We are also with the conviction that apart from a birth certificate which is supposed to have been acquired at birth, the 2012 biometric voter ID card is the most transparently acquired ID card that went through vigorous checks leading to, in some cases ending in courts to proof ones citizenship. This is a document prepared by Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) which was used for 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, 2018 Referendum to have 6 New Regions and just ended December 2019 District Level Elections. Prior to all these elections, except the 2012, The Commission had continued to upgrade the register through limited registration to add on those who were below the constitutional requirement age of 18 years at the time of the previous registration. What has therefore gone wrong with the existing voter ID card that cannot be used as a basis of re-registering?
Finally, it is upon these reflections that, as citizens and a Responsible Civil Society Organization (ADAM-GH), we deem it a civic responsibility to use all legitimate channels such as your office and your huge personality to advice The Commission, especially, The Chairperson Madam Jean Mensah and her Deputies to keep Ghana peaceful and protect Ghanaians from anticipated overwhelming catastrophe of the lingering pandemic called coronavirus spread if the exercise is allowed to take place in the current form.
We are grateful for the opportunity granted us. May you live long. Thank you.
AZUBILA SALAM EMMANUEL
JOHN KWAME ADU JACK
DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND MEDIA RELATIONS.