National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sammy Gyamfi has made some compelling arguments as to why the Electoral Commission (EC) will not be able to carry out its registration exercise in the latter part of June as it has announced.   

The EC, after its meeting with the Interparty Advisory Committee (IPAC) on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 announced plans to commence the voters’ registration exercise in the last week of June.

Reacting to the decision by the EC in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson (CJ) on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem on Thursday, Mr. Gyamfi argued that it was impossible for the electoral body to conduct the exercise and present to political parties a provisional register in time before the day of the election.

The first argument Mr Gyamfi raised was the time period needed for the current Constitutional Instrument (CI) presented to Parliament by the EC itself to mature.

He explained that per Ghana’s electoral laws, a CI needs 21 days of continuous parliamentary sittings to mature.

He also argued, saying it was going to be difficult given the current situation in parliament in which some MPs have contracted the virus, thus pushing back the maturity date of the CI.

Another argument he made was that, the CI even after it had matured and the EC is given the green light to conduct the exercise, the EC ought to document and gazette the details of all registration centres and make them available to the various political parties, 21 days prior to the start of the registration exercise itself.  

He added that not even one out of the 8,000 Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits needed to conduct the exercise and subsequently the general elections was in the country, as the manufacturers of the BVDs are encountering some challenges in the production of the machines.

“Even more bizarre is the cluster system of 6 polling stations the EC intends to use for the exercise, where they will be spending just six (6) days at each polling station for the exercise.

“Even when there was no Coronavirus and we had just about 12 million eligible voters to register in the year 2012, the Afari Gyan-led EC spent 10 days at each polling station for the 2012 biometric voter registration exercise. How much now that we have covid on our hands and over 17 million eligible voters to register? How can six (6) be adequate for such an exercise?”

Mr Gyamfi, therefore quizzed the EC on when the BVDs were going to get into the country for them to be tested and piloted before the commencement of the registration exercise slated for the last week of June.

Mr Gyamfi, concluding his arguments, asserted that should the NDC even decide to forgo its resistance against the compilation of the new register, the EC given the time frame it has from now to December, it would be impossible for it to conduct the registration exercise and present to the various political parties, a provisional voters’ register for the 2020 general election.

After the exercise, the EC needs a lot of months to generate a provisional register; just last year, they did a limited registration exercise for just 1.2 million people for the Assembly elections and even with that, it took them more than 3 months to compile a register for the Assembly elections. Now you are going to register close to 18 million people, and you think you can work magic and do everything within these few months, he quizzed. 

In their [EC] initial timetable the exercise was to begin on April 18 and they said the final register will be ready in November 8. Six months interval, so now that they are starting it in June, when will the final register be ready, he quizzed further.