The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana has wilfully disenfranchised some 33,000 voters in the reregistration exercise for voters who registered using the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards as proof of identification in 2012, Peter Mac Manu, 2016 Campaign Manager for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has said.
On Friday July 29, the EC announced at a press conference addressed by its Director of Communications, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, that at the end of the 10-day re-registration exercise, only a little over 24,000 out of the more than 57,000 NHIS voters whose names were deleted were reregistered, an indication that over 33,000 ‘NHIS voters’ had been disenfranchised as far as this year’s general elections were concerned.
He added that in spite of the low turnout, the election management body had no plans to extend the period for the reregistration, which came to an end Thursday.
“…It cannot be the case that the low turnout was caused by low publicity. The message was well disseminated; if people actually wanted to get registered, they could have done so within the 10 days. There is no evidence that when an extension of the date is granted, the remaining people will come out of their houses or communities and get their names re-registered. In the considered opinion of the [Electoral] Commission, the re-registration exercise could not be extended. Apart from the fact that the exercise was extensively publicised, the decision not to extend the exercise has been informed by a number of additional substantive reasons,” Mr Dzakpasu said.
But speaking in an interview with Naa Dedei Tettey on Class91.3FM’s Campaign Trail Friday July 29, Mr Mac Manu said: “ I think that the Electoral Commission should reconsider its position because it is not a question of people were not available to get themselves registered.”
He added: “There were people in queues…so if people have made themselves available at the district centre coming from all over the district to the centre, particularly, to get themselves registered and you are unable to do so because either the internet lines are down at the district centre, either the machines were not enough, you don’t blame the voter or the registrant but you have to find a way of accommodating them.
“So it is the EC which is deliberately disenfranchising them and I think that is not in order. I will urge the EC to reconsider its position and get these people on board because 38.9 per cent is a low figure as far as the re-registration is concerned.”
Mr MacManu further stated: “There was not enough public education. If you only advertise in the Daily Graphic with only names and polling station codes, it is difficult for people all over the hinterland to get to know where particularly they should go and get themselves reregistered. So, the issue is that people were travelling distances to the district centre. At the district centre people queued up and the machines were breaking down because either there were power outages, either the internet were down and you cannot blame the voter for that. So I think that they should be given another opportunity otherwise the EC is disenfranchising them.”
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