Parliament asks EC to consider guarantor system in new CI
Mrs Jean Mensa, EC Chairperson Mrs Jean Mensa, EC Chairperson
Parliament has recommended to the Electoral Commission (EC) to consider the guarantor system as an alternative means for eligible persons to get onto the voters’ register.
The House also asked the Commission to carry out the continuous registration exercise at electoral areas in the districts on rotational basis, instead of the original idea to undertake it only at the district offices of the Commission.
The recommendations were in Parliament’s Committee of the Whole’s report, which was adopted last Friday.
The EC in its draft Constitutional Instrument (CI), currently before Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee, has planned to use the Ghana Card as the sole registration document; a decision the Minority and some civil society organisations said could disenfranchise a section of Ghanaian voters.
The EC also proposed to undertake registration of eligible persons at its district offices only, instead of electoral areas and polling stations as used to be the case in limited and mass registration exercises.
Appearing before the Committee earlier at the meeting, the Commission told the Committee that using the Ghana Card would purge the voters’ roll of foreigners and minors.
The EC also defended limiting the registration centres to its offices, indicating that the exercise would be continuous and cost beneficial.
But having considered the difficulties in the acquisition of the Ghana Card and the difficulty in reaching the EC’s offices, the Committee said though it agreed with the Commission to purge the register of unqualified people, this may not be the right time to rely on the Ghana Card as the sole registration document.
According to the report, “The Committee is emphatic in its position that this is not the time to introduce and implement the use of Ghana Card as the only means of identification of citizenship for the purpose of voter registration.
“The EC should tarry slowly until every eligible person is afforded the opportunity to register and procure the Ghana Card before the legislation of such compulsion.”
The Committee consequently proposed an amendment to regulation one; under qualification of registration, that if a person does not have the Ghana Card “that person shall be required by the Commission to produce a relative to provide evidence of identification on oath in accordance with the provisions of the Oath Act.”
The report indicated that: “Where a person applied for registration as a voter but has no relative to provide evidence of identification on oath, the Commission shall require two persons registered with the National Identification Authority and issued with national identification card to identify that person under oath in accordance with provisions of the Oath Act.”
The Committee also said the approval of the CI, if laid, did not in any way invalidate the existing voters register.
“Despite the revocation of the enactment (that was used to compile the current voters register), the existing voters register immediately in force before the coming into force of these regulations shall be considered to have been compiled under [the new] regulations,” the report explained.
Signed by the Speaker of the House, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the report called on Parliament to “consider the CI when presented to the House subject to the above proposed revisions and amendments”.
Responding to the recommendations of the report, the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato BaahForson, said the position of the Committee on the CI “is a win for democracy.”