#New Voters Register Now


It is very unfortunate that we've had to find ourselves in this uncharted waters again. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the fact that election disputes have caused other countries to submerge, we still prove ourselves capable of replicating it. Election violence is too expensive for any state to afford. The manner and way the Electoral Commission of Ghana and its Voters Register were subjected to scrutiny and ridicule during the election petition case in 2012 left so much to be desired. The former Commissioner even noted that there are two different registers with different number of voters for both Parliamentary and Presidential respectively. He could not also account for all the registrants from abroad.

A Supreme Court ruling quashed the NHIS Card as a requirement for having Voters' ID Card in Ghana. Meanwhile, there are already numerous registrants who used the NHIS Card as basis to be voters in Ghana. How do we identify and expunge these registrants? Remember, the electoral laws include previous Voter ID Card as a basis to register for the next election. Now, if a new voters' register is to be compiled today, how do we identify those who used the NHIS Card to get the 2012 Voter ID Card? It is almost impossible. Hence, we simply amend the law to disqualify the 2012 Voter ID Card as basis to owning our next Voter ID Card.
We turn a blind eye to the laws fact that laws are made to better and streamline our lives. We should therefore not make our laws to behave otherwise.

These and many more reasons render the current voters' register incredible. This text will carry the arguments of both the proponents and the opponents of a new voters' register and draw a conclusion thereof, putting the best interest of Ghana in central focus.

What do the proponents of a new voters' register say?

The current register is bloated. It includes a lot of minors. The register has non-Ghanaians in it. If compared to the number of adults Ghana is supposed to have per our population census and the imminent non-registrants, the proponents claim of bloated register might be upheld. However, the question remains that, what is the guarantee that a new register will not have the same defect? The assurance lies in our ability to control non-Ghanaians from registering. Clearly, it is the registration of the foreigners that has bloated our register. How do we stop foreigners from registering?

Parliament should do what it does best: the legislation should pass a bill that any foreigner who is caught registering to vote in Ghana would be very severely dealt with.

To address the concerns of both parties, the National Identification Authority should play a key role in our data collection. The NIA should be empowered to carry out the mandate it was originally set out to deliver. The NIA was born by the Kufuor administration to be the central database or intelligence of the state. The NIA is expected to collect data for general purposes. However, the EC collects data for specific purpose of conducting elections. The difference in purpose in the data collection between the NIA and EC is crucial. The data with the NIA will be far more credible than what the one EC collects. Why? Because the NIA database bears the reference to determine all dealings and entitlements of a citizen in the country. How much a citizen is expected to pay for NHIS subscription, based on his age? The NIA possesses features such as when a citizen must retire from work, etc, and, who is qualified to run for what position? Therefore, the NIA should be the central data bank from which the EC, NHIS, employers, etc source their data.

What are the concerns of the opponents of a new register?

A new register will not address all the concerns of the proponents; rather a review and audit might. To them, they agree that the claims by the proponents of a new register are genuine ones except for foreigners on the roll. However, they do not see how a new registration can tackle the concerns. They believe that even the minors in 2012 will now be of age in 2016. What about those who were under 14 years old? They will still be under 18 years to qualify to vote. Even them, how can the proponents prove that they can be prevented if a new roll were to be compiled? This question is what the proponents have failed so far to address, but the failure of the proponents could be borne out of the inability of the NIA to prosecute its mandate. Untill we have a credible central database, nobody but parents alone will be able to challenge a minor successfully.

It is our own desperation for power that has resulted in foreign registrants and minors on our roll. I agree with Dr. Hassan Ayariga, when he recounted that it is our attitudes that have brought us into this conundrum. However, I am baffled that he thinks we should continue to use the current register and at the same time, change our attitudes instead. I think differently about this. Like I agreed with him previously, political actors should change their attitudes toward elections generally. Conversely, I think our current bad attitudes, as I agreed with him earlier suffice if we change this current register, then also, we must change our attitudes to good as a way of moving forward. This is a perfect way of guaranteeing the credibility of our electoral register forever. Changing our attitudes but not the current register as Dr. Hassan Ayariga wants us do will only leave our incredible register unchecked forever. That way, we have solved nothing as a country.

Consequently, the proponents of new voters' register have legitimate concerns. On the other hand, though they have not been able to prove beyond all reasonable doubts that a new register can solve the impasse of the current one, as my friend always says: "evidence of no evidence is no evidence of evidence"; the fact that there is insufficient evidence to prove that something is true does not, in effect, mean that it is false too.

In spite of what has gone on, I demand a new voters' register. My case is simple. For the security of the country, I think a new voters' register is necessary, and for which reason I would want your minds to be open here! What happens if the proponents of a new voters' register go on to lose the election with the current register?

What if their over 5 millions voters refuse to be calm and accept the results?
Also, what happens if the incumbent loses the next election with a new register? Will they claim that the opposition massaged the new voters' register? In fact, can they? The correct answer is No! The only party susceptible to control of the EC is always, and has always been the party in government. Therefore, since some parties might have reasons to complain if they lose Election 2016 with the current register and none can complain with a new voters' register, we have to find a common ground that will ward off any possibility of political instability in Ghana post-2016 elections.

That common ground is by compiling a new voters' register for the 2016 elections.