On April 18, the Electoral Commission was expected to have commenced the exercise towards the compilation of a new voters register. But for the sudden upsurge of the novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), it became necessary for the exercise to be withheld.
Considering all the possible events that might spring forth in the coming days, it has become necessary that we add our voice to this chorus and urge the Electoral Commission to as a matter of urgency, follow the trajectory it announced earlier.
As a youth group with an inspirited mission of voicing out for the ambitious but voiceless young Ghanaians, we, by this communique, do add our voice to the matters arising regarding the Electoral Commission’s Voters’ Registration Exercise relative to the 2020 General Elections.
It could be recalled that a founding member of the NPP who doubles as a seasoned lawyer, Sam Okudjato, recently advocated that the Electoral Commission should commence its registration exercise in parts of the country that have not been locked down as it is, in accordance with the presidential directives on health protocols and social distancing.
We, as a concerned youth group, fronting and championing the course of a better Ghana, do believe that such advocacy, as proclaimed by Sam Okudzeto, is a step down the right path.
Considering that, government agencies are still functional across the country, we believe it will only be fair for the Electoral Commission to discharge its responsibilities as mandated by the constitution. The effectuation of this exercise, subjected to all other judgments, is in no certain terms an unfair play or an indictable offense since government agencies have been secluded from the closure of works.
Additionally, it must be noted that the year 2020, is not a run-of-the-mill year on the Commission’s calendar relative to the past few years when we were not in the times of conducting a general election. For this cause, should the Electoral Commission fail to conduct the registration exercise, then we must frankly anticipate being hit by certain treacherous events?
Having noticed the gross lapses and flaws in the existing register, it will be very suicidal for anyone to advocate for the usage of the same register in the conduction of this year’s general elections, especially as the EC itself has vehemently spoken against the register, stating clearly its credibility deficiency.
This will mean that should the EC fail and use the same questionable register, even the political parties who are advocating for its usage might turn around in litigation should they lose the elections. It is hence imperative that the EC works according to their expert eyes in conformity to the constitution of Ghana and produce a new credible register at all cost.
Moreover, considering the uncertainty hovering around the timing of the extirpation of the novel Corona Virus, it will be very ideal for the Electoral Commission to take advantage and roll out the registration exercise in these areas in order to avoid any future misfortunes. For instance, should this year’s general elections be called off, the Electoral Commission, by constitutional provision, has only three (3) months ultimatum to undergo all necessary procedures and equally conduct an emergency election. Should we approach the latter months with no credible register, it will be impossible for the EC to hold elections — certainly not without a credible voters register. For this very reason, it will be very expedient for the Electoral Commission to start making preparations towards the voters’ register so as to curb any difficulties that may arise in the coming days. Should there be a plausible register, the Electoral Commission would only have to marshal resources and conduct the emergency elections thus should we find ourselves constrained as at December 7.
The Ghana Youth Confederacy is also of the view that political parties cannot be trusted on these matters to say, that the Electoral Commission should forego its activities including the conduction of a general election under the guise of the surge of this Corona Virus.
With the argument of the Electoral Commission being unable to conduct the exercise, as opined by Lawyer Akoto Ampaw, CDD, and other CSOs, the Ghana Youth Confederacy believes otherwise. We believe that it is possible for the Electoral Commission to embark on this all-important exercise. Referencing the case of North Korea, whereby virtue of an individual, thousands of persons contracted the virus, it is clear that, the sand has settled by taking pragmatic measures, making it possible for them to conduct their elections. Similarly, we believe that should the EC put in stern precautionary measures, we will be able to contain the spread of the virus as much as the EC will also help provide a credible voters register.
Therefore, to ensure compliance of social distancing and curb overcrowding at the registration centre (s), we pray and suggest the Electoral Commission, under the leadership of Jean Mensah to ensure that;
1. Registration is done at the polling station.
2. Each polling station must not register more than five hundred and fifty (550), people.
3. With regards to sealing the number of registrants on the voter roll at 550, as stated in point (2) above, community heads must be engaged to provide numbers to potential registrants a day or two prior to the day of their registration. When successfully executed, this exercise should be repeated for all the remaining days that will be stipulated for the registration exercise.
4. EC must ensure that registration days be enough to help discourage panic desire for registration.
5. We additionally plead with the Electoral Commission to also consider the creation of new polling stations to help fast track the registration exercise and to equally aid the containment of the crowd within the highly populated areas.
These we do believe, without a single iota of doubt, can help us curb any unforeseen occurrences which might confront us and shake the peace we enjoy as a country.
We should be worried once again that, the constitution is a bit illiterate on the matter at hand, giving room for personal interpretation from constitutional experts, which is a recipe for serious pandemonium even more than what COVID-19 is causing. We therefore once again call on the Commission to step up for the exercise and also call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support the EC to execute it’s a mandate for the wellbeing of Ghana today and the generation yet to come.