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Saturday, July 11, 2020

REJECT EC’s C.I for new voters register now – Parliament told

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Former Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Yaw Brogya Genfi has called on the Parliament of Ghana to reject the Electoral Commission (EC) introduced for the compilation of the new voters register.

Below is his reasons:

PARLIAMENT MUST REJECT C.I. 126 BEFORE MATURITY

The function of the Electoral Commission of Ghana relative to voter registration as outlined in Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution is; “to compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law;”

The Constitution states “the register of voters…” not ‘a register of voters’. Obviously, the framers may have had something specific (the register of voters) in mind. So…what register did the framers possibly have in mind?

Before we get to the answer, let me remind readers that voter registration in Ghana has a long history traceable to the colonised Gold Coast era and the framers of the 1992 Constitution, I believe, took all into consideration – recounting from the first register of the Gold Coast in 1925 to the last register under the PNDC in 1987/88, before the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution.

In fact, the voters register used for the Elections of 1992 was first compiled in 1987/88.

Thus, in answering the question, “the register of voters…” referenced in Article 45(a) obviously anticipated the 1995 voters register which would have been the first ever voters register under the 1992 Constitution.
When that register was compiled in 1995, the Electoral Commission was then supposed to revise it periodically as determined by law.

I strongly believe that, the second register to be compiled in 2004 was merely a review of the 1995 voters register.
My believe is safely anchored on the fact that, Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 12, offered equal opportunity for all registered voters in the 1995 register to be recaptured without hindrance. Technically, not a single registered voter in the 1995 register, living and willing, was disenfranchised in 2004.
What this means it that, the Electoral Commission allowed all registered voters of 1995 into the 2004 register and in addition, captured those who were not in the 1995 register.

The 2012 biometric register of voters is no exception – as it also allowed for all registered voters from the 1995 and 2004 registers to be captured without difficulty.

For the Jean Mensah led Electoral Commission to attempt to exclude previous Voter Identification Cards (Voter I.D. Card) as a source document, would amount to perishing “the register of voters…” which was birthed in 1995 in accordance with Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution.

For the avoidance of doubt, any registered voter of the 1995 registration is entitled to be registered as a voter as long as the 1992 Constitution lives – except that such a registered voter is found to have been illegally registered through an adjudication process in accordance with law. Let us remember that even a 1995 Voter I.D. Card should qualify anyone as evidence to be registered as a voter.

Ironically, as late as 2019, the Jane Mensah led Electoral Commission accepted identification cards from all previous voter registration under the fourth republic as a source document for the 2019 limited registration. What has changed now?

I encourage the Parliament of Ghana to reject the Constitutional Instrument 126 before it matures. Allowing C.I. 126 to pass will be akin to amending or more injurious, repealing Article 45(a) of the Constitution.

Madam Jean Mensah and her team at the Commission are swimming against the current.

The 1995 voters register is the mother of all registers… and thus, any registration of voters that seeks to truncate its umbilical artery from the 1995 register of voters, would be suggested to be un-constitutional, in my books.

Unfortunately, I am not a member of the Bench of Ghana; neither am I a Professional Lawyer at the Bar. At best, I would pretentiously describe myself as a Pocket Lawyer (PL).
These are my personal thoughts intended to contribute to the current public debate on whether or not the Electoral Commission would compile a new register of voters. It is without prejudice to the pending case at the Supreme Court to be heard in early June.

Brogya Genfi
(Citizen of Ghana)

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