Nov 7 Polls: 161 Days More Butů

With exactly 161 days left for Ghanaians to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections, the Electoral Commission (EC) is yet to settle on the appropriate and acceptable means of producing a credible register, which is a vital tool for any successful election.

The current legal battles facing the electoral process mirror a similar situation in which the EC wasted GH¢317 million on District Assembly and Unit Committee elections which were cancelled by the Supreme Court on legal grounds.

For the November general elections, the Supreme Court has ordered the EC to delete from the electoral roll names of persons who registered with National Health Insurance (NHI) cards and give them the opportunity to re-register, provided they can prove their citizenship.

But the EC says the names of persons who registered with NHI cards will not be deleted from the electoral roll since the commission has no law that empowers it to do so. 

EC Committee to delete names

Suggestions that the EC should set up a committee to delete the NHI card registrants will mean going through at least 15 million forms one after the other to sort out affected registrants.

The EC’s decision to use the exhibition of the voters’ register to remove unqualified names also poses serious challenges.

The voter exhibition exercise is done to help voters verify if their registration has reflected. 

Limited voters’ registration exercise

Already, the EC has conducted a limited voters’ registration exercise, during which its provisional results showed that a total of 1,105,686 people were registered.

After removing the names of NHI cardholders, the EC will have to conduct another limited voters’ registration exercise to allow those NHI cardholders whose names have been removed another opportunity to use the right ID card to register as the verdict has indicated.

This will later be followed by another exhibition exercise for the re-registered voters to check if their names have been captured.

With 161 days left to voting day, this process is likely to have negative impact on the entire process.

The names of minors, foreigners and NHI cardholders who are not entitled to vote are on the register, and it has the effect of diluting or diminishing or reducing the weight of legitimate votes. 

The EC has stated that there is no existing legal process to delete the NHI cardholders from the register.

Legal process to delete names?

Therefore, starting a prospective legal process that will require parliamentary approval to delete names is farfetched considering the fact that voting will take place in 161 days from today.

It will be useless if the EC goes ahead to exhibit the register without getting rid of the names of NHI card registrants.

Financial loss to the state

Parliament approved GH¢826.8 million for the EC for the conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

The commission had budgeted over GH¢1.1 billion for the polls, with the expectation that some GH¢100 million would be used for other administrative expenses. This leaves a funding gap of almost GH¢400 million. 

Already, part of the approved budget has been used for the limited registration exercise and part of it will be used to undertake exhibition.

In case the EC returns to compile a new register, it will require further funding from government since the money spent on the above exercise would be wasted.

The EC wasted GH¢317 million on District Assembly and Unit Committee elections which were cancelled by the Supreme Court on grounds that the law on which the EC wanted to hold the election, CI 85, was not in force as of the time nominations were closed.

Consequently, the EC spent an additional GH¢90 million to successfully organise the elections but no one was held responsible for the loss.

Counting the cost of a general election, it will be prudent for the EC to immediately make definite unquestionable statements on the way forward as soon as possible to give Ghanaians hope that the November polls would be held as planned.