A Deputy General Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has explained that despite the objections to the Electoral Commission’s use of only district offices for the impending limited registration exercise, they are not in the wrong legally.
Speaking on PM Express on JoyNews, Haruna Mohammed stated that although the constitution states that people 18 years and above have the right to vote, their right does not include closeness to registration centres.
“Whatever the distance is, for your right to vote, distance should not stop your right. Distance should not stop your right,” he stated.
He noted that the EC’s C.I 92, Regulation Two gives it the right to designate registration centres it considers appropriate adding that Article 45 (a) of the constitution also calls on the Commission to compile and revise the voters’ register as determined by law.
Mr Mohammed said,“whether suitability, whether closeness, it is the Commission. And in this case, the Commission has taken a decision that its offices are the most suitable…you ask yourself, is the position of the Electoral Commission illegal? On point of law, no.”
He added that if previously limited registration exercises were done in 2000 centres and the Commission believes they can do it in 268 centres today, it is their right.
This comes after the Electoral Commission announced that it will commence the 2023 voters’ registration exercise on Tuesday, September 12, and end on Monday, October 2.
In the said announcement, the Commission added that the exercise would take place at its district offices across the country.
Many, including some political parties and CSOs have protested this decision arguing that it could disenfranchise many Ghanaians especially those who have to make long trips to the district offices to register.
As a result, the NDC and some other political parties filed an injunction against the EC on Thursday, to halt the process but the case has yet to be called.
Meanwhile, also on the show, the Communications Director for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Sammy Gaymfi disagreed with NPP’s Haruna Mohammed.
He stated that the same constitution that requires the EC to compile and revise the register, also calls on the Commission to undertake programmes for the expansion of registration of voters.
“How do you expand the registration of voters when you are reducing registration centres from 1500 in 2019 to 268? You expand registration by expanding access and you expand access by creating more registration centres and registration points.”
Mr Gyamfi added that the C.I mandates the Commission to take into consideration the suitability of the designated place for use as polling stations and their accessibility to prospective voters.
“Are district offices of the EC suitable for polling stations? We have never done that and we will never do that in 2024. Polling stations are within the community of the people. Haruna is telling our audience that the poor 18/19 year old first-time voter, wants to register and exercise his franchise, he lives at Bawku or Bole. He has to travel 100 kilometres before he gets to the district capital.”
“The transportation for him alone is about GHS120, not to talk about the transportation cost for his guarantors, if he doesn’t have the passport or Ghana Card. And you are saying that this is acceptable? This is accessibility the law is talking about? You don’t need to be a lawyer to know that what the EC is doing is unlawful, unreasonable and unconscionable.”
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