Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution provides that every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purpose of public elections and referenda.

Pursuant to article 51 of the 1992 Constitution, the Electoral Commission (EC) has presented to Parliament a Constitutional Instrument to amend C.I 91 to make Ghana card or passport acceptable documents for registration onto the new voters’ register. The instrument is currently under consideration with the subsidiary legislation committee . Barring any unforeseen circumstance of parliament voting to annul the instrument, the C.I will mature to come into force in twenty-one sitting days .

The instrument is seeking the amendment of regulation 1 of C.I 91 to exclude the existing voters’ identification card and birth certificate as a requirement for the upcoming voters’ registration. The Constitution empowers the EC to compile the voters’ register . But in 2016, the Supreme Court, in the case of Abu Ramadan & Anor v EC & Anor, had ordered the EC to immediately take steps to ‘clean” the register of voters to comply with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution in order to serve as evidence of a valid proof of qualification to vote. The EC in compliance with the order embarked on a clean-up exercise of the existing register and ensured that qualified persons were allowed to re-register.

Perhaps, in view of article 107 of the 1992 Constitution which provides that “Parliament shall have no power to pass any law – (a) to alter the decision or judgement of any court as between the parties subject to that decision or judgement”, can Parliament proceed to amend C.I 91 to disallow persons who do not have Ghana card or passport but the voters identification card to register to vote, thus altering the Supreme Court decision that the voters’ identification card is an evidence of a valid proof of qualification to voter?

Moreover, it suffice to say that in this coronavirus stricken social environment restraining citizens from registering for their Ghana cards or passports, what other valid reason would the EC hold on to justify their inordinate and unbridled desire to compile a new voters’ register with only two documents which would inevitably restrict the number of qualified voters to register?

In short, the independence of the EC does not imply absolute influence and control over their actions as an election management body to somewhat defy orders of the Supreme Court.

Michael Sumaila Nlasia