The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana has once again decided to add another layer to the robustness of Ghana’s electoral system.
This time, the commission intends to, among other things, seek legal support under the proposed Constitutional Instrument (CI) to use the Ghana Card as the sole document for all future voter registration.
The EC is of the view that the National Identity Authority (NIA)-produced Ghana card has better features than any other document including the Ghana passport and the EC’s own produced Voter Identification (ID) card.
According to EC President Jean Mensah, the proposed CI will preserve the sanctity of the electoral process without foreign interference because one person who is disqualified on our list is too many. The use of the Ghana Card as the sole document for voter registration indicates that ‘the guarantor system that previously allowed registered voters to confirm citizenship and age of prospective applicants will no longer be used for the registration process’. Challenges.
Apart from being covered under the legal framework of our electoral politics, the Ghana Card can be a secure and reliable form of identification that helps reduce fraudulent activities such as double voting.
As is the case, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has come to the defense of the EC’s proposed CI while the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has gone all out to oppose it. The ruling parties have stood by the EC, while the opposition parties have opposed the EC’s reforms for years.
Dr Kwadwo Afari John, former President of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the EC, was among those who kicked against the CI proposed by the EC. Opponents’ central argument includes the possibility of denying rights to many in view of the practical difficulty of securing a Ghana Card. The question of identity has led to bloody conflicts in Africa, so anything related to identity politics should be handled with caution.
A major risk associated with using only the Ghana Card for voter registration is that it can be used to disenfranchise certain groups of people. For example, if citizens do not have access to financial resources or proper documents, they will not be able to obtain a Ghana Card and thus will not be able to vote in elections. If there is more than one ineligible person on the register as pointed out by the EC President, does not the same logic apply to one eligible person who cannot enter the register due to his/her inability to obtain a Ghana Card?
Also, the assertion that NIA offices are located in districts and regional capitals gives the impression that proponents of the new CI are out of touch with the reality of rural Ghana. Do we honestly think that some of the rural poor and elderly travel several kilometers to Ghana’s district capitals by walking or using bicycles? About their health, money and time?
Additionally, while it is true that many ineligibles can get onto the electoral roll through the guarantor system, the Ghana Card may not accurately reflect a person’s true identity, so ineligible individuals are also at risk. Access voter registration with Ghana Card.
Another challenge of using the Ghana Card as the sole document for voter registration is that it can be expensive for the government to produce and distribute the cards to all eligible citizens, as well as maintain an up-to-date database of voters. It is a function of the health of the economy, which we cannot guarantee tomorrow. Furthermore, there is a risk of biometric data stored on the card being stolen or misused, which could have serious implications for Ghana’s national security and privacy.
Added to the above is the opportunity for the system to be manipulated by those in power, leading to unfair or unjust outcomes. Consolidation of gains in our elections should not be risked as the consequences may cost us dearly. The politics we practice in Ghana is too dangerous to allow the executive arm control over any process of enrolling people into the voter register. NIA is under executive control.
The main danger of leaving voter registration in the hands of a government executive is that it may be vulnerable to misuse and abuse, as it may be done in a way that benefits certain political parties or individuals. Additionally, there is a risk of manipulation and fraud, as the executive branch of government can unfairly influence the results of an election by deliberately excluding certain groups or individuals from the voting process. Finally, the process can become corrupt or ineffective, which also risks losing confidence in the electoral system.
Other documents must be received for voter registration to ensure that all eligible citizens are given the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. The key is vigilance.
Additionally, having a variety of documents available allows for greater accuracy in verifying an individual’s identity and reduces the risk of fraud and other errors.
The author is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science,
University of Education, Winneba
Source: Dr George Sugar
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