EC must make its position on voter’s register known

Nana AkomeaThe New Patriotic Party (NPP) is demanding the Electoral Commission (EC) states its official position on recommendations by the five-member panel set up to examine concerns about the voter register.

The panel, headed by Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe, was put together following concerns about the credibility of the voter’s register.

They have since submitted their report to the EC.

Speaking at a press briefing, Communications Director of the NPP Nana Akomea said it is strange that the elections regulatory body is yet to make its official position on the proposals known.

Joy News Kwakye Afreh Nuamah was at the presser and reports that the NPP is of the view that the failure of the EC to make its position public takes a lot away from the process of ensuring that the voter’s register is credible.

Nana Akomea said the time and manpower spent by the panel will be wasted if the EC remains silent on the recommendations made.

Although the EC wrote to the NPP after the panel completed its work, the Communications Director said that alone is not enough.

He said the NPP expects the EC to state its position as soon as possible.

“The NPP had advocated a completely new register as solution to the bloated register.

“The EC believes the compilation of a new register was not necessary.

“To the EC, the current Challenge procedures under CI 72, and now C1 91 -which provides the mechanism of Exhibition for cleaning records in the register, “are sufficient ”

“However the EC’s own Committee /Panel of Experts , set up to evaluate proposals for cleaning the register and make faithful recommendations on the subject, has categorically rejected the Exhibition process as not adequate and not viable ” for the purpose of cleaning up the bloated register.

“In the words of the Panel, on page 17 paragraph 17 of their report: “Judging by the sheer numbers, the Electoral Commission’s proposition to display the register, with political parties, the Electoral Commission and the citizenry to identify and point out invalid names, IS NOT A VIABLE APPROACH, particularly when the persons who identify these records are expected to expend their time, energy and resources not only to provide the evidence but also to testify before a court of competent jurisdiction.”

“The Panel continues on Page 18: “the system is not effective in achieving the set goals of eliminating invalid records from the register and must be reconsidered. It is said you cannot do the same thing and expect different results”.

“So, in the clear opinion of the EC’S own Panel, the process of cleaning the register through the Exhibition of the register is simply not viable and not adequate.

“The Panel report continues on pages 20 and 21: “It seems that doing nothing more than the usual updating and waiting for the citizenry to pursue those who are illegally registered, will engender the most bloated register, by the mere fact that very few of the names are likely to be brought up.

“Generally, it might be difficult to justify leaving more than half a million invalid records in the register that we seek to characterize as credible.”

“In other words, the EC’s own panel of experts rejects the process of Exhibition as not viable in cleaning a bloated register, as the process amounts to a mere updating of records, that will still leave over 500,000 invalid names in the register.

“The question then is, what does the panel of experts then recommend? The committee’s recommendation to correct such a bloated register is contained in pages 20-21 of its report. It recommends that:

“The Electoral Commission COULD CONSIDER EXTENDING THE EXHIBITION EXERCISE TO HAVE VOTERS CONFIRM THEIR NAMES ON THE LIST, an indication that they would want to maintain their voter status.

“The benefits include signaling that the Electoral Commission is doing something about the known flaws in the register; the most cost effective approach is being used. IN THE SAME WAY THAT A NEW REGISTRATION WOULD HAVE REQUIRED CITIZENS TO PHYSICALLY APPEAR FOR REGISTRATION, THE CLEANING WOULD REQUIRE THAT THEY APPEAR TO CONFIRM.

“The major difference is they spend less time because no forms are filled. Rather than make others responsible for maintaining voters names on the list, the individuals should themselves do that. This also avoids the issue of people looking for documents to support any claim to get a record removed.”

“So in the clear words of the Panel, the Exhibition should be turned from a process of voters appearing at polling stations to merely update their records, into a confirmation process where voters will go to confirm their records.

“The panel insists this process will signal that the EC is doing something concrete to clean the known flaws in the register, in a very cost-effective way; and would have the same effect of cleaning as a process of compiling a new register would, at much less expense, and at much less time.

“The Panel insists strongly that backed by the necessary enabling legislation, their recommended confirmation process is vastly superior to the Exhibition process advocated by the EC, and compares very favourably to the process of compiling a new register.”

The NPP is, therefore, insisting that the EC undertakes a validation exercise. This Nana Akomea said is the key part of the panel’s recommendation.

Nana Akomea said if the EC fails to embark on the validation exercise it will not hesitate to discourage their members from participating in the extended exhibition exercise the EC intends to undertake.

Source: Myjoyonline

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