Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mop up eligible voters not captured in limited registration - IDEG

Mr Kwesi Jonah, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Democratic and Economic Governance (IDEG), on Tuesday appealed to the Electoral Commission to give District Election Officers the mandate to mop up eligible voters who were not captured in the recent limited voter registration exercise.

He also urged the EC to keep the names of persons registered in the recent registration exercise separate from the already existing register until thorough investigations were done and called for an active involvement of unit committees in the identification of eligible voters in the communities to help improve the quality of the registration exercise.

Mr Jonah's appeal was contained in a statement he issued on behalf of IDEG as part of the organization's observation during the exercise. IDEG, an organization that actively promotes democracy and good governance in Ghana, observed the registration exercise, which was conducted from July 31 to August 12.

The institute deployed some 200 volunteers and 25 supervisors in 26 constituencies in 26 districts covering seven administrative regions where it operated through its governance issues forum network. Mr Jonah also urged civil society organizations to play a more active role in the cleaning of the voters register for the December 2008 elections.

"The EC should do everything it can to purge the register of the names of the dead and cases of underage, alien and multiple registration."

The statement mentioned several factors, which accounted for the challenges faced during the registration exercise and noted that the big political parties in their bid to grab political power by any means resorted to encouragement of under age, alien and non-resident registration which could lead to double or multiple registrations. "It was evident also that the EC itself had grossly underestimated the scale and enormity of the task of the voter registration exercise 2008. The two-month delay in the registration exercise had brought into play many locality-specific and age specific variables that could not have been anticipated."

Giving examples, the statement said many Senior High School form three students who are 18 years and above who would be writing exams in May/June were on vacation in July/August when the exercise was going on hence they took advantage to register.

The statement also pointed out that in some regions where the National Identification registration exercise was going on at the same time, persons 18 years and above were required to produce Voter ID for citizens registration, hence the decision of some to re-register to enable them to register for National ID.

The findings by IDEG said on the whole the exercise faced numerous and unanticipated challenges including shortage of registration forms, shortage of films, shortage of laminators, faulty cameras, violent incidents between party agents and among prospective voters, loss of registration materials in some centres.

It noted that due to budgetary constraints the EC could only operate half of the 5,000 workstations required for the exercise even though there was high demand for registration driven by the value placed on voter ID cards as alternate national ID card for multiple transactional purposes.

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