President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said it must be the collective responsibility of Ghanaians to ensure that the country has a register fit for purpose for the conduct of the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “we must all make sure that persons who do not meet the requirements, as set out clearly in the Constitution, do not find their names into the register. If you aid the registration of an ineligible person, and you are caught, you will face the full rigours of the law.”
Addressing the nation on Monday, 29 June 2020, ahead of the conduct of the voter registration exercise on Tuesday, 30th June, the President stressed that “the election on 7th December must be a Ghanaian election, not a West African election, conducted with a voter register of Ghanaians. That is the only way the true will of the Ghanaian people can manifest.”
He, thus, urged all eligible Ghanaians, i.e. that is Ghanaians of eighteen (18) years of age or above, and of sound mind, to go out and register, so that they can exercise their civic responsibilities on 7th December 2020, to elect a government of their choice in a free, fair, peaceful and transparent election.
“Using your God-given and constitutional rights cost nothing, but staying home can come at a very steep price. The pandemic, notwithstanding, we have to strengthen Ghanaian democracy,” he added.
Describing the compilation of the voters’ register as one of the most important tasks in the effective functioning of any democracy, President Akufo-Addo noted that if an eligible citizen’s name is not on the register, that citizen cannot exercise the right to vote, and cannot, therefore, participate in the determination of the choice of the government of the day.
“It is, thus, vitally important that all eligible voters register, so, on the designated day of 7th December, they can vote to choose the President of the nation, and the Member of Parliament of their area. In effect, our vote, our thumb, is the expression of our individual sovereign power as a citizen, which we should cherish and guard at all times,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo reassured all eligible voters of their safety at the 33,327 polling stations across the country, explaining that the Electoral Commission has put in place the necessary, elaborate protocols for the process.
“All these protocols should be adhered to strictly. Additionally, I want to remind all Ghanaians that all the other protocols and restrictions, especially those dealing with large gatherings, must be adhered to and enforced at the polling stations at all times. So, let us all abide by them, and conduct ourselves in a manner befitting the image and status of Ghana,” he added.
The President continued, “If you do not register now, you cannot vote in December. Present your Ghana card or passport, which are the only two forms of valid identification. In the absence of any of these valid IDs, an applicant can submit one completed Identification Guarantee Form, endorsed by two registered voters, to be registered and issued with a voter ID card. By these procedures, all eligible voters will be registered. No disenfranchisement of voters is contemplated by them.”
December polls must be held
With some arguing that, in the midst of a pandemic, the compilation of a new register, and, indeed, the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections should be put on hold, and scheduled for a later date, perhaps, when the pandemic ends, the President stated that “that is not possible”.
He explained that the Constitution of our Republic makes no provision for the extension of the mandate of the President, who wields executive power, beyond four (4) years.
“To exercise executive power in the Ghanaian state, you must be duly elected by the Ghanaian people. You must have their freely-expressed consent. On 7th January, 2021, when my mandate as the current President expires, a duly elected person must be ready to be sworn in as President of the Republic,” he said.
Continuing, he stressed that “there is no other way, and, in order to forestall any needless constitutional controversy, which could throw our nation into jeopardy, we must vote on 7th December 2020. The same applies to Parliament. We should not fear or be alarmed. Despite the COVID pandemic, elections are being properly conducted in many nations across the globe.”
Citing examples of countries such as South Korea, Poland, Mali and Malawi, who have all held elections in the midst of the pandemic, President Akufo-Addo was confident that “surely, it is not beyond Ghana to join these nations in organising a successful general election, even in the midst of the pandemic.”