Thursday, 21 September

We don't intend to disenfranchise voters; it's not in our interest - Jean Mensa

Jean Mensa

The Electoral Commission has no plan whatsoever to disenfranchise voters in the ongoing limited voter registration exercise, Chairperson Jean Mensa has said.

In line with that, she told the media that the elections management body "swiftly resolved" the challenges identified during the first few days of the 21-day exercise exercise.

“We wish to assure the citizens that we have their best interest at heart", Mrs Mensa said on Monday, 18 September 2023, adding: "We do not intend to disenfranchise eligible voters". 

"It is in our interest to register them all", she added.

She said the EC will conduct a mop-up exercise at a later date to ensure eligible voters who may not be able to register in the current exercise, to do so.

“We plan to institute continuous registration in all our district offices nationwide in 2024 for a considerable length of time", she announced.

"In addition to that, we will identify difficult to access areas and undertake a mop up registration exercise in those areas", she said.

A few weeks ago, former President John Mahama urged the Electoral Commission to open up the exercise so that all eligible first-time voters as well as voters who have lost their ID cards, will get the opportunity to take part in it.

The exercise is being held in all the 268 district offices of the EC across the country.

Some seven opposition parties, including the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), Convention People’s Party (CPP), People’s National Congress (PNC), All Progressives Congress (APC), National Democratic Party (NDP), and the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), do not support the restriction of the exercise to just the districts.

At a press conference in Accra on Monday, 21 August 2023, the General Secretary of the GCPP, Frederick Ato Dadzie, said the move will sideline some potential voters.

"Some Civil Society members present also opined that to ensure the electoral process is participatory and decentralised, it should include, if not all, some electoral areas in a cluster form as done in the past". 

"At least, if the EC cannot do more than 1,500 registration centres as done in 2019, they should maintain the status quo", he proposed. 

"We, therefore, suggested that the EC can use 7 days to do the registration exercise at the electoral areas and use another 7 days to do a mop-up exercise at their district offices to even save them time and cost", he told journalists on behalf of the seven parties.

He said: “The Electoral Commissioners informed us that they have taken our concerns and 'will get back to us', a phrase we are well-accustomed to and, so, pushed further for timelines, and they indicated by close of day Monday.”

“Most of us were, therefore, taken aback when we only heard and saw on radio and TV that the Electoral Commission has set a date for the registration exercise and will use only their district offices as registration centres".

“In conclusion, we also want to publicly call on the Electoral Commission through its Chair, Jean Mensa, to rescind their decision and make the process more accessible and painless to enable the average Ghanaian who is eligible to exercise their right and entitlement to be registered as a voter.”

“This will reflect in the EC’s commitment in building a solid and credible institution to protect the strong and enviable record of Ghana as a beacon of democracy that will continue to be worthy of emulation across the continent.”

Joining the chorus, Mr Mahama, in a Facebook Live address on Wednesday, 6 September 2023, said: "I wish to add my voice to those who have called on the EC to reconsider its decision to restrict the registration exercise to its district offices only".

The flagbearer of the NDC said acquiring a voter ID affirms one’s right to vote, and access to a voter ID "should be easy and not limited by location", adding: "Every Ghanaian deserves the chance to exercise their democratic right".

"I strongly urge the Electoral Commission to facilitate the registration exercise in all electoral areas to allow for easy access and a reduced burden on the citizenry in their quest to register", Mr Mahama said.

"I challenge the Commission to be transparent with the processes preceding the start of the limited voter registration exercise, the replacement of voter ID cards, and the transfer of votes", he noted.

He said, as has been requested in a formal letter to the Commission by the General Secretary of the NDC, "we want to know when the names and pictures of the registration supervisors, registration officers, registration assistants, and other officials for the exercises will be published at the district level, as stipulated by the EC regulations".

Mr Mahama said: "We have also requested information on the exact number and distribution of workstations, registration kits, and other logistics".

"It is also our recommendation that in line with Regulation 2(2b) of C.I. 91, as amended by C.I. 126, the Commission listens to calls for the extension of the exercise to take place in the electoral areas and not be limited to the district offices of the Commission". 

"This will curb many inconveniences, including transportation, lack of money to move from distant locations, and access", he explained.