Monday, July 21, 2008

December 7 General Election - Register Reopens July 31

The Electoral Commission (EC) will reopen the voters register for the supplementary registration of eligible voters from Thursday, July 31, to Sunday, August 10, this year, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the commission, has disclosed.

The supplementary registration is to allow those who have turned 18 and have not registered, as well as anybody who is over 18 but has never registered, to register.

Dr Afari-Gyan announced this when he and his deputy, Mr Sarfo Kantanka, visited the offices of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) in Accra Friday.

Earlier, the two officials had met the Managing Director of the group, Mr Ibrahim Awal, in his office, where they  held discussions on how the group could co-operate with the EC during the forthcoming elections.

The subsequent encounter with members of the Editorial Conference of the Daily Graphic is part of the company's policy of engaging key stakeholders within governance institutions to share their thoughts on critical issues confronting the country.

In frank discussions, the EC chairman said the register was in pretty good shape and that "if we ensure that the reopening of the register is done transparently, we will have good elections".

The registration exercise would take place in about 5,000 electoral centres and it is estimated that at most about a million people would register.

"This is supplementary registration to update the register and not a fresh exercise to call for the reopening of all centres," he told the Editorial Conference.

He said the commission would exhibit the register by the middle of September and by the end of that month receive nominations for both the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Dr Afari-Gyan explained that reopening of the voters register, originally scheduled for May this year, was delayed due to "a lot of unforeseen circumstances as a result of changes in methodology of the electoral process".

He explained that though the commission had put in place adequate measures to run the electoral calendar uninterrupted, the procurement process had been more difficult than anticipated.

He gave the assurance that the EC had acquired enough working materials but added that "we need to do a lot of training to get our workstations in place".

He said it was erroneous for a section of the populace to argue that the electoral calendar, the registration exercise and the filing of nominations were running late.

"We are late according to our own plan because there is no law which obligates the commission to do nominations at a specific time," Dr Afari-Gyan stated.

He said although the commission was not obligated to give the voters register to any political party, it would, in its own way of engaging the parties, send them electronic copies of the register. "What the law requires us to do is to publicly exhibit the register," Dr Afari-Gyan stated.
He gave the assurance that the commission would ensure a thorough cleaning process to come up with a clean register for the elections.
On whether prisoners would be allowed to register, Dr Afari-Gyan explained that "the law does not allow us to register them by virtue of the fact that they are inmates".

He said apart from right issues, there were difficulties associated with the exercise of registering prisoners.

On ROPAL, Dr Afari-Gyan said the commission had done considerable work on its implementation but cautioned that there was more work to be done in making it acceptable to all.

He said, for instance, that registration centres were not in place and that because ROPAL allowed every Ghanaian everywhere to register and vote in public elections, things had to be structured in a well defined manner before implementation. "It is not a programme to be rushed through," he cautioned.

On the request by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that some polling stations located within the Accra Business District be closed because nobody resided there, Dr Afari-Gyan said the petition was before the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) for resolution.

He, however, said upon close examination, the claim by the NDC was partly true and partly false because while some people lived in those areas, others who only went there to do business also registered and voted there and such names therefore had to be expunged from the said polling stations.

"As a result, we cannot close the stations because if you do that you disenfranchise some people," he said.

He said the commission was prepared to accommodate grievances concerning the register, saying, "Once we know there are names on the register which should not be there, we will act accordingly."

As to whether the national identification exercise and the reopening of the voters register would not encounter any difficulties, Dr Afari-Gyan expressed optimism that they would have no problems.

Source : Daily Graphic

No comments: