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Validation Is Not A Term Of Art (2)   
 
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18-Mar-2016  
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There have been six (6) General Elections in the 22 year 0ld 4the Republic of Ghana. All of them have two common features, namely; 1) everyone of the voters registered used for these elections have been bloated; and, 2) the political parties in Opposition has always complained that the Electoral Commission in an “awam” referee

Based on a charitable definition of ‘bloated, here are the bald statistics:  In 1992, the number of people on the voters register used for the election was one hundred and twenty percent(120%) of the total number of the population assessed to be over 18 years of age and therefore eligible to vote.  1996 saw a slight improvement to 105.5%; 2000 was also 105.5%; 2004 was 93.6%; 2008 was 95.8%, and 2012, the year of biometric and “no verification, no vote”, was 102.6%

With the exception of the first, when the opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections, the outcome has always accepted, albeit with the obligatory murmur of “Ya wia mu” (stolen verdict)/ Of course, the last one was the subject of a very vigorous legal challenge, and even here the vanquished congratulated the victor, rather than contest the verdict on the streets.

So if we the people of Ghana have accepted and worked  with every President and the Parliament elected using a bloated register, I think we are entitled to an answer to the questions :1) What is the fascination with and worth of so-called “credible register’?; and, 2) How do we arrive at this beast called ‘credible register’?; and finally, what impact if any, will this credible register have on the conduct and outcome of the November 7 poll?.

Interestingly, and despite all the noise and fury of the last year, no one has been able to tell us what constitutes a ‘credible register’? Is it a statistical number benchmark which defines a threshold proportion of eligible voters? Or is it a register which is devoid of all those who don’t qualify to be there?

If it is a statistical number, then I for one, have not been able to find any benchmark figure for any country in the world in my near 25 years of involvement with election management in Ghana, going back to the days of Justice Annan led National Commission of Democracy (NCD).   Of course I admit i am not the fount of all knowledge in these things and therefore very ready to be educated by those shouting “credible” from the rafters.    

 If it is a register totally purged of those entire not qualified to be on it, then we really have a mountain climb much taller than Afadjato or Kilimanjaro. Ina country devoid of a reliable and system for documenting and keeping track of the entry, departure and qualification as to citizenry, the procedure for establishing who is a citizen, who has reached the eligible voting age (child), or even who of the eligible is still of the ‘quick ‘or dead, is the subject of vigorous debate amongst the likely competitors.

I have just “sighted” a document which seeks tm answer the supposedly 10 most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Validation. Though a useful addition to the ongoing debate, it has two fatal flaws. Firstly and quite extraordinarily, the document that itself cannot seem to decide on what validation is. In answer to its 1st question, validation is equated to ‘cleaning’ to obtain a ‘credible register’.

So is all this big English about validation reduced to cleaning? and if so, what should be the scope for the cleansing? Is it to hunt for aliens, forestall voting by the ghosts of the dead, and take out supposedly underage voters? Although the FAQs document offers its own prescription as to the issues and how and when to do it, the flaw is that it is only shadowing the view of one of the many potential teams. It is like Asante Kotoko  putting out its own interpretation of the rules of football and insisting that this version must be used in the impending winner takes all match  against Hearts. Naturally, Hearts will literally cry foul and chant “we no go sit down make them cheat us”, from their dugout terraces 

There is also the matter of ventriloquists of the same Kotoko side seeking to tie the ECs hands through very clever legal manoeuvres that seek to impose their interpretation of the rules to be taken as the gospel according to the constitution of Ghana. I hope that we can be charitable enough and overlook the fact that the main protagonists pushing this line are related to the leadership of the very competitor seeking to legitimise their version of the truth.

I hear the Supreme Court has given a semblance of credibility to this by suggesting the ventriloquists and the EC meets to agree so called “common grounds”. How can the EC do this with only one side? What will happen if the other competitors then decide that they do not accept any common grounds that they were not party to?  I find the SC suggestion very impractical and likely to set a dangerous precedent which could tie this year’s election in legal knots as all kinds of ‘aggrieved’ souls seeking to impose their versions of the rules of engagement under the guise of common ground.

It is my humble submission that the SC should do its own work without prescribing how another r constitutionally independent body should work. The SC should firstly clarify whether its decision on the use of NHIS cards for voter registration applies retroactively and thus the EC has to reregister all those affected before this year’s poll. Secondly, the SC should give us its interpretation as to citizenry qualification to vote in our elections. Is the entitlement to vote restricted to citizens who ONLY hold Ghanaian citizenship? or do hyphenated Ghanaians who hold dual citizenships of other nations qualify to vote even if they cannot serve in Parliament?    

Once the SC has clarified these very important matters as to the rules of the game, it should be left to the EC’s to play its role as referee for Election 2016... Like all decent referees, our constitution has decreed that the EC’s decision is final. This is the import of my assertion that it is only the EC’s  decisions  on  1) what should constitute validation; 2) how should it be done; and, when should it be done that count in the scheme of things.

Naturally, the EC needs the fullest cooperation of the competing teams to ensure that the game is played in a peaceful environment. This is the pre-match briefing platform of IPAC where it is hoped there is unanimity on the meaning of the rules. Where this is achieved, there is no record of a single situation where the EC has not embraced the competitors’ views. Similarly, where the competitors have disagreed the EC must be exercised its referee’s role and take the responsibility for the final decision.    

For the benefit of us all, let us remember that it is the candidate who obtains 50% +1 of the total number of votes declared as valid on election day who becomes the President of Ghana. It is not the decided on the nominal size of the voters register that is used for the election, whether bloated or seemingly credible.

Since we like to tout the last Nigerian election as the gold standard, I want you to reflect on the fact that only 29% of the supposedly cleaned and validated register actually voted to elect Buhari as President. By contrast, Ghana’ turnout in 2012 was nearly 80%. Lesson, It’s all about the quality of vigilance on match day.

If we seek a ghost-free register, the best time to validate is on Election Day. But then we do already check that your thumb-print matches your biometrics on the EC’s database.  However, the joke is that the most trusted instrument for vigilance, “no biometric verification, and no vote” has been unanimously jettisoned by the competitors in favour of the totally irrelevant argument about validation and what constitutes a credible register.  Have you ever wondered why the unanimity to do away with it? 
 
 
Source: WEREKO-BROBBY (Dr)
 
 

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