Contrary to its earlier announcement of ending the impending registration in late July, the Electoral Commission, Ghana (EC) will now end the exercise in August. The start date of the exercise, however, remains Tuesday, June 30. But it will now end on Thursday, August 6, according to promotional advertisements which started being rolled out on Sunday.
The decision by the EC to compile a new voter register has been met with resistance from some major political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs). Most of these dissentients believe the timing for the compilation of a new register, particularly in an election year, is wrong.
This has, however, been parried by the Chair of the Commission, Jean Adukwei Mensa, who told leaders of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) last week that it is not the first time a register is being compiled in an election year.
She said in 2004 and as recent as 2012, the registers were compiled same year as the elections. “Indeed in 2012, that was when the biometric technology was introduced to the country,” Mrs Mensa said. “At that time, it was new and we didn’t have experiences in it but the Commission felt it was necessary in the interest of strengthening the system to compile a new register.”
The largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has since filed a suit at the Supreme Court, praying the court to stop the Commission from carrying out the exercise. The party has cited the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus disease as even a reason why the EC should only conduct a limited registration as a mass registration will put the citizenry at risk. But the Commission has already started rolling out advertisements on the impending exercise.
From the ads, the registration begins 7:00am and ends 6:00pm each day. It has already conducted a pilot exercise in all 16 regions of the country. With the exception of the Western Region, where the biometric verification machines failed on the second day, the exercise was generally deemed successful.
“The Commission is satisfied with the exercise and will use the lessons learnt to improve upon the conduct of the upcoming Voter Registration Exercise,” the EC said in a statement following the piloting.