Plans by the Electoral Commission to compile a new register of voters is a recipe for “chaos, danger and crisis”, the National Democratic Congress’ Director of Elections, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah has said,
“The foundation of democracy is fairness, a level playing field”, Mr Afriyie Ankrah told CTV’s Nana Yaw Adwenpa on Ghana Kasa, adding: “I am saying and I repeat that the EC’s plan to compile a new register of voters is a logistical impossibility”.
“There’ll be chaos if they try it”, he insisted, explaining: “Not that anybody will spark the chaos but it is not practical to do – statistically”.
“The social-distancing protocol will restrict the number of people you’ll be able to register in a day. It is commonsense”.
“In any case”, he pointed out, “you’re going to use new machines which have not yet arrived”, noting: “We’re heading into a crisis”.
“Ghana’s unseen, invisible problems are bigger than the visible one: we don’t like the truth. We’re in May, we don’t have a timetable from the EC, people are sitting there and when we talk they say what? Does it make sense? This is not the first time this nation has held elections. We have both local and international experience. There are procedures for holding elections. We’re heading into danger and the media, eminent people are all sitting aloof”, Mr Afriyie Ankrah fumed.
In his view, the 2012 register of voters is a foolproof document and, thus, wondered why the Electoral Commission, led by Mrs Jean Mensa, is insistent on compiling a new one ahead of the 2020 polls.
In the Monday, 18 May 2020 interview, Mr Afriyie Ankrah said during the compilation of the current register, “The NPP brought three proposals on board: the need for a biometric voter ID and verification process, as well as electronic voting but the EC at the time, rejected the third one”.
According to Mr Afriyie Ankrah, the biometric nature of the register and the verification process provides “double security” for the electoral process, adding: “The 2012 register is supposed to be the end of all registers because all 10 fingers of eligible voters were captured during the compilation process and, so, there’s nobody in the world that can use your ten fingerprints to vote”.
“So, only the bearer of that biometric data can vote”, he insisted.
Secondly, he noted that the 2012 register was compiled in a way that “allows people to go to their district offices to register if they weren’t captured during the national registration process”.
Additionally, he noted, “the 2012 register makes room for new eligible voters to be captured through a limited registration exercise”.
Furthermore, Mr Afriyie Ankrah said the EC, through its exhibition of the register, is able to regularly clean the register by expunging the names of dead people from the document.
“So, the 2012 register if foolproof”, he told Nana Yaw Adwenpa, pointing out: “The way it is, nobody can use your fingerprints to go and vote on your behalf except you”.
“It is not impossible because you need to be verified before you can vote”, he added, saying: “Even if an impersonator wants to do that, he would be found out and arrested”.
Moreover, he noted, “those who have died but still have their names on the register cannot vote nor can anyone use their details to vote on their behalf”.
“So, all we need to be doing as a nation is to regularly reconcile the names on the register with those of the Births and Deaths Registry.
“It is a register which we have spent a lot of money on. Secondly, Jean Mensa’s EC has gone to Parliament several times to seek approval for funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars to repair the current register and its BVRs and BVDs.
“So, the register and its equipment, since 2012, have been upgraded with about $40 million”, he asserted, emphasing: “So, it is not an old register nor are the equipment old to be discarded. They’ve repaired the majority of the machines and it is the same register that we used for the 2016 elections which the NPP won, the same register was used for the district assembly elections, the same register was used for re-demarcating the regions; so, the register has been used for so many things of which the EC gave a clean bill of health, so, how come all of a sudden [there’s a push to change it?].
“So, knock on wood, should we lose an MP right now, which register would the EC use to conduct a by-election? So, if it were so bad, why was it used for the 2016 elections, district assembly elections, re-demarcation of regions and so many other purposes?”, he wondered.
NIA, EC conniving with Akufo-Addo to rig 2020 polls – NDC
The NDC recently raised fears that the decision of the EC to compile a new register of voters using passports and the National Identification Authority’s Ghana card as proof of eligibility may give undue advantage to the governing New Patriotic Party and President Nana Akufo-Addo and also help the incumbent to rig the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2020.
According to the biggest opposition party, over 10 million Ghanaians are unable to retrieve their Ghana cards from the NIA several months after they were registered, a situation which the Chairman of the party, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo said will make it impossible for them to be captured on the new electoral roll.
“The President, seeing defeat staring glaringly at him, is, in conjunction with the Jean Mensa-led EC, and the Ken Attafuah-led NIA, desperately scheming to rig the 2020 elections and hold on to power at all cost”.
“Not even the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in which require that we pull together for our collective survival as a nation, are enough to deter the actors of this plot from their ungodly act”, Mr Ampofo alleged at a press conference on Thursday, 14 May 2020.
“In essence”, he noted, “you’d realise that at the end of the day, several people will be frustrated, they’ll not get the opportunity. And if you look at the figures, you’d realise that the percentages increase in the NDC strongholds and it is a very worrying sign that it is a deliberate attempt to suppress votes and ensure that as many people as possible are unable to make themselves available”.
In Mr Ampofo’s view, allowing the EC to compile a new register within the time constraints brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, could mean disaster.
“Again, considering the time limitation imposed on the nation by COVID-19, this is not only practicable but simply defies commonsense and will surely disenfranchise a lot of eligible voters if the EC is allowed to proceed on this rather dangerous and perilous path”.
"It’s impossible to rig elections in Ghana" – EC to NDC
In its response to the NDC’s allegations, the EC said rigging elections in Ghana is impossible.
The EC said: “It is impossible for the Commission to conspire with any political party or institution as being speculated by Mr Ofosu-Ampofo and the NDC since the electoral processes remain transparent at all levels”.
“As an independent body, the Electoral Commission is mandated to conduct free, fair and transparent elections within the confines of the law and will continue to perform its functions as such without fear or favour,” the Commission said.
"Report us to police", NIA to NDC, as it denies "criminal" rigging conspiracy
Also denying the allegations, the NIA’s Executive Director Prof Ken Attafuah said at a press conference that: “There is no truth to this allegation. NIA does not operate on the basis of political strongholds. Our operations planning is based on population statistics obtained from Ghana Statistical Service. There has been no deliberate effort to prevent applicants in any region to register”.
He added: “While it is true the exclusion of the voter ID card as a primary registration requirement has increased the number of applicants needing to be vouched for, this process has been a part of our electoral practice under the Fourth Republic. The only difference now is that requirement that the oath be sworn before a Commissioner for Oaths or Magistrate. This ensures greater document integrity as guarantors appreciate the consequences of perjury in swearing the oath of identity. NIA ensures that a Commissioner of Oaths is available at every registration centre, at no cost to the applicants. Indeed, over 70% of applicants for the Ghana Card used this method to validate their citizenship nationwide”.
“We do not need the EC to rig an election in our favour” – Mac Manu to NDC
The governing NPP, which was also roped into the allegation, said through its Campaign Director Mr Peter Mac Manu at a press conference that it does not need to rig the polls to win.
“NDC must be reminded that the NPP, as an opposition party, beat the NDC in 2026 and by the largest margin ever in Ghana’s history against an incumbent President in Ghana’s history.
“It is not the fault of any Ghanaian that the NDC chose to bring back as their presidential candidate for 2020, the very man at whose hands the NDC suffered their biggest defeat in history”.
“It is not the fault of NPP that the NDC chose to bring back as their 2020 presidential candidate, the very same man who gave Ghana the worst economic growth performance since 1994”, Mr Mac Manu said.
“We do not need the EC to rig an election in our favour. A government that has put 1.3 million children to school, who, if NDC were in power, would be on the streets, does not need an election to be rigged in its favour”, he added.
“President Nana Addo Dankwa Akudo-Addo continues to show leadership and commitment to the welfare of ordinary Ghanaians and it is this which gives us the confidence that the Ghanaian people will recognise his leadership and performance and allow the party that knows how to deliver, to continue”, he noted.