The Electoral Commission has maintained that it is powerless in deleting names from the country’s voters’ register merely on emotion expressed by a group or an individual.
In having a register that can be described as credible and acceptable to all, the decision that can be taken to arrive that must be grounded in law, Chairman of the EC Charlotte Osei observed.
Aside what has been prescribed by law, the Commission cannot pander to the emotions of individuals or groups to alter the register, she remarked.
Mrs.Charlotte Osei was addressing a stakeholders’ forum organized on the New Patriotic Party’s call for a new electoral roll – which was moderated by a five-member committee set up by the Electoral Commission (EC).
Other political parties and civil society groups with divergent views have presented position papers as a critical first step to arriving at a credible register.
The NPP strongly argued for a new voters’ register after presenting a document it said was evidence of about 76000 Togolese whose names are on Ghana’s electoral roll.
Touching on this concern, she noted that one can be identified as a Ghanaian through marriage, adoption, by birth or decent among others. Skin colour or accent or peculiar looks cannot be used as basis to deny a person's citizenship and therefore deny the person a right to vote.
If Ghanaians do not want any of the options prescribed by law by which one acquires citizenship status, we could all agree and go through proper legal process to achieve that, she said.
What she would not advice is to resort to emotive definition to tell who is not a Ghanaian and therefore should not be on the register. People who look different may be constitutionally entitled to a voters' ID card, she cautioned.
"We cannot use an emotive definition and say this one is a Ghanaian and this one is not a Ghanaian," Charlotte Osei emphasised.
Charlotte Osei traced the history of Ghana’s electoral reforms from 1992 when there were no photos on electoral I.D to 2012 when the country went biometric but still people complained about impersonation, minors among others. However a significant complaint on multiple registrations was eliminated, she noted.
She noted instances where minors are lured by political parties to register as well as dishonest parents who are enticed by political parties to get their wards registered. Some parents also register kids purely based on ignorance, she said. Some do not know the age of their children, she admitted.
For instance, she said about 8,000 voters were identified as 18 year-old at one registration exercise and some years after, they still claimed they were still 18 years.
A country without a strong identification data base, such as Ghana, she pointed out, one cannot tell other’s age by just looking at the nose. It beholds on all stakeholders – the community and political parties -, to ensure that the right thing is done, she appealed.
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