The Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) will register new voters onto the electoral roll ahead of the December 19 District Level Elections from Tuesday, September 12, 2023, to October 2, 2023.
The Exercise, which is in accordance with Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution, will take place at the 268 District Offices of the Commission – a departure from the old system where limited registration exercises were done at the electoral areas.
The 21-days exercise would afford Ghanaians who have attained the voting age of 18 years since the last registration in 2020 and others who are more than 18 years but could not register during the last registration exercise, to do so.
Following the rejection of the EC’s draft Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) by Parliament in April this year, the EC said it would adopt the existing Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (C.I. 91) (1) as Amended, for the upcoming registration exercise.
The draft C.I. which was disapproved by Parliament recommended a continuous voters registration exercise and sought to make the Ghana card the sole identification document to establish an applicant’s citizenship.
The adoption of C.I. 91 for the upcoming registration exercise means that eligible voters can use either the Ghana Card or the Ghana Passport to establish their identity as Ghanaians.
In the absence of the two identification documents, applicants would be required to present two people who are already registered voters to vouch for their citizenship and age.
In an interview, Dr Bossman Eric Asare, the Deputy Chair-in charge of Corporate Services at the EC, said the Commission is ready for the exercise.
The EC initially targeted 1.35 million registrants but has revised it downwards to 800,000.
The Commission said per its estimation not everyone who had turned 18 years since the last registration exercise in 2020 would actually register due to either personal reasons or non-availability.
“Nationwide, we are looking at an estimate of 1,350,000 and since voting is not compulsory in Ghana, we believe that a number of these people might have travelled, some might have moved on into other ventures even outside the country.
“So, the Commission is looking at about 800,000 registrants in 268 locations for the registration,” Dr Asare said.
Some political parties, including the National Democratic Congress have raised red flags about the EC’s decision to hold the limited voter registration exercise at its district offices and not within electoral areas as it was done in previous exercises.
The parties expressed fear that new voters in remote communities, who may not be able to access the district offices, could be disenfranchised.
Consequently, five political parties – NDC, Convention People’s Party (CPP), All People’s Congress (APC); Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG); and the Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP) – sued the EC at the Supreme Court, demanding the apex Court to restrain the Commission from holding the registration only at its district offices.
Meanwhile an Application for Interlocutory Injunction to restrain the EC from proceeding with the announced limited voter registration exercise did not materialise, which means that the exercise will take off on Tuesday as announced.
Dr Asare told the Ghana News Agency that the EC appreciated the concerns about accessibility of its offices in some remote communities but it cannot vary its plans due to time constraints.
He said persons who would not be able to register “in the unlikely event” would be offered another opportunity to do so after the District Assembly Elections.
“Currently because of the time, we cannot revise what we have. We recognise the challenges. We know there are some places in Nkwanta South, Afram Plains and in all the regions of our country, some of the places are so far away from the districts.
“In the unlikely event that people are not able to register, we will still be able to do it again after the District Assembly Elections,” he said.
The last voter registration exercise conducted by the EC ahead of the 2020 general elections (which was a new register) put 17.2 million voters on the electoral roll.
The EC is seeking to make the registration of new voters a continuous process, which means that persons who turn 18 years old could walk into any District Office of the Commission to get registered.
But that window would only open when the proposed C.I. that was earlier rejected by Parliament is resubmitted and approved.