The Electoral Commission (EC) says it will not extend the re-registration date for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card registrants whose names were deleted from the voters register.
According to the commission, it had by Wednesday, July 27, 2016 registered 22,107 out of the 56, 772 names that were deleted from the voters register and it was obvious that not all the registrants would come back to re-register.
“The message is well disseminated. If people wanted to get re-registered, they could have done so well 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 to get their names re-registered,” it said.
At a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Director of Communications of the EC, Mr Eric Dzakpasu, explained that “it has been four years since they registered. Chances are that a good number of them may no longer have been with us and others may have their own reasons why they would not want to re-register”.
NPP wants extension
Some political parties, including the New Patriotic Party (NPP), have called on the EC to extend the 10-day re-registration of NHIS card registrants whose names have been deleted from the voters register.
The NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for the Efutu Constituency in the Central Region, Mr Alex Afenyo Markin, has petitioned the Electoral Commission (EC) to extend the period for re-registration of NHIS card registrants by 10 days.
The names of 56,772 people who used the NHIS cards as a form of identity were deleted from the electoral roll by the EC in compliance with a Supreme Court order on July 5, 2016.
The court further directed the EC to give the affected persons another opportunity to register.
In compliance with the Supreme Court ruling, the EC gave an opportunity to the affected persons to register from July 18 to 28, 2016.
The 22,107 names that had been re-registered from the total of 56,772 indicated that more than 34,665 had not re-registered.
The registration exercise was done alongside a voter exhibition exercise to allow eligible voters to verify their details in the register. So far, 4,173,959 citizens have been verified. The exercise is expected to end on August 7, 2016.
“The most publicised activity”
Mr Dzakpasu said the EC embarked on a massive campaign and publicity and, therefore, the low turnout could not be attributed to low or inadequate public education.
Through live TV programmes, radio interviews, publication of the names in the Daily Graphic, publications on various media websites and the commission’s sites, he said the EC did its part to give the exercise the needed attention.
In addition, he said radio commercials were placed on about 200 radio stations in all the major dialects.
Apart from the media platforms used, Mr Dzakpasu mentioned that gong-gong beaters were used by some traditional rulers, while publicity vans and street announcers were used at the district level.
Describing the exercise as the most publicised activity of the commission this year, Mr Dzakpasu said the re-registration exercise could not be extended.
Why no extension
Among other reasons not to extend the 10 days, he explained that the EC was required by law to exhibit the provisional register of the persons re-registered.
He also explained that the EC also had to set up district registration review committees to adjudicate on objections raised against the registration of persons who were believed to be ineligible to re-register.
"The provisional voters register can only be produced for exhibition of the re-registrants after all the above processes have been duly satisfied.
“The exhibition of the provisional voters register for the re-registrants and the general exhibition must end at the same time so that the commission can produce a final certified voters register for the political parties,” he added.
If the EC should consider the extension, he indicated that a separate exhibition exercise would have to be organised for the NHIS re-registrants, a situation which could lead to voter fatigue and apathy.
He explained that any extension of the exercise would impose further budgetary constraint on the commission.
Source: Daily Graphic
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