Consider aborting plans or find ‘innovative’ ways of compiling new voters’ register – CDD to EC

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) has urged the Electoral Commission (EC) to either consider abandoning plans or find alternative ways to compile a new voters’ register.

The Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement, Dr. Kojo Asante said if the novel coronavirus persists, it will be difficult for the EC to compile a new voters’ register once we enter June because there will be little room for the EC to roll out its full calendar which might create problems in the country.

The EC was forced to indefinitely suspend plans to compile a new voters’ register, which was scheduled to begin on April 18, 2020. It, however, added that it will find a favourable date depending on the prevalence rate of the virus in the country.

But looking at the implications of a late voter registration exercise within a COVID-19 context, Dr. Asante said the best scenario was for the Commission to start the exercise in April but that is off the table now, leaving the only second-best and worst-case scenario to consider.

According to him, the second-best scenario envisages the EC starting in May and this is because the Commission would be time-pressed but it can still pull it off with very little room to make mistakes and correct them in time or deal with legal challenges.

Also, the worst-case scenario will be to have the registration exercise in June but that might create problems since the time is limited.

According to him, “I think it’s a real option that we should consider because a June date will definitely shift every arrangement on the calendar forward and even makes it more difficult to address any issue that you have not planned for. You know elections always come with a lot of issues so even if you are doing this without all of the complications that normally come with elections, you can imagine that you really have almost zero room for rectifying any problem that you left. Before you know you are left with 4 weeks or 5 weeks of campaigning and it just really creates a lot of problem and pressure for the election environment.”

He added that “So once you get into a June scenario, you should really consider the alternative to compiling a new register and which is through the limited voter registration process if the first plan doesn’t work. That is why I think all of us have to get involved to ensure that we can still have a free, fair and credible election. Because we have to build consensus so that we avoid people challenging the process in court and so to save ourselves the trouble, we should be more accommodating and discuss things before implementing them.”



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