The Electoral Commission (EC) is considering to compile a new voters’ register ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei, said the commission would take a decision after examining the benefits, risks and cost implications involved. Several political parties and other groups have called for a new voters’ register.
There has been disagreement on whether a new voters’ register should be compiled; and while the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the other parties have been vociferous on the need for a replacement of the current register to guarantee credible, free and fair elections, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been dismissive of the calls, describing them as an absurdity.
Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, recently said, “We do not have to push ourselves to the brink on this. A new credible voters’ register is a sine qua non. The nation needs it; the nation demands it,” while addressing a news conference in Accra.
Earlier, the NPP General Secretary had also called for an audit of the register, said to be laden with anomalies, which therefore makes it incredible to be used in 2016.
However, national first vice-chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, thinks otherwise and believes the calls are inappropriately absurd as “they have no basis.”
However, chairperson of the EC indicated that the electoral body could not simply show indifference to the various concerns and that the commission was in the process of examining the pros and cons of all the available options for a decision to be made on the issue.
“We have received calls and letters from the political parties. Some are asking for a new register. Some say the register is fine and others want it to be audited or cleaned up. We are looking at all the options and considering the cost involved, and as a commission, we will take a decision,” she told DAILY GUIDE in a short interview.
Ms Charlotte Osei made the remarks on the sidelines of a day’s sensitization workshop for civil society organisations, media, community based and faith-based organisations in Kumasi to improve participants’ knowledge of the electoral process for them to educate the public on the impending District Level Elections (DLEs).
She assured of an open-door policy administration and called on all stakeholders to help improve the electoral process for the benefit of the nation’s democratic governance.
The EC chairperson expressed concern over the increasing rate of rejected ballots and called for a scientific research to be conducted on the development, indicating that conflicting instructions and messages to voters – from the political parties and other educators – might be some of the possible causes of the phenomenon.
The EC director of elections, Samuel Tettey, took participants through the features, processes, regulations and procedures for the upcoming DLEs.
According to him, DLEs are non-partisan and required candidates not to receive any form of support from political parties, warning that those who fail to comply with the regulations risk being disqualified from the contest.
“Candidates are also barred from taking up any political party’s colours, emblem or motto,” he emphasized, while educating participants on the various sanctions for anyone who perpetrates electoral fraud.