No Registration Extension For ‘NHIS Voters’ – EC

The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana will not extend the date for the re-registration of persons whose names were deleted from the register of voters for using National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards to register ahead of the 2012 elections, the Director of Communications at the EC, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, has said.

The re-registration of the voters, which came to an end Thursday July 28, was in accordance with an order by the Supreme Court of Ghana to the election management body to delete the names because the use of the NHIS card was unconstitutional.

But when it was just some few days to the deadline for the registration to come to a close, there were calls, especially from some leading members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), to extend the date following the low turnout. Mr Sam Pyne, Ashanti Regional secretary of the NPP, earlier this week told Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom on Accra100.5FM that the low turnout was due to the low publicity of the event as well as power outages in most of the district offices of the EC, especially in the Ashanti Region.

He, therefore, urged the EC to extend the date in order to capture all the voters, to avert disenfranchising affected voters in this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
Also, Effutu MP Alexander Afenyo-Markin made a similar call after claiming about 5,000 voters were deleted in his strongholds within his constituency.

But at a news conference in Accra on Friday July 29, Mr Dzakpasu said the low turnout could not be attributed to the low publicity of the event because there was adequate publicity on the exercise. “…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,” he explained.

He added: “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. [These are]: we are required by law to exhibit the provisional register of the persons re-registered. Due to the deployment of additional registration kits to some heavily-populated districts, it necessarily follows that the data captured must be processed. This means we will require some time to be able to do that in order to be in the position to exhibit the provisional register for the re-registrants from 5th to 8th August 2016 as agreed at the IPAC. The process of the data will include configuration of data of all persons who registered with BVR kits and that takes not less than two weeks”.

Mr Dzakpasu continued: “There is the need to set up district registration review committees to adjudicate all challenges to the re-registration of some of the affected persons. In this regard, regulation 20 (1) a, b, c of CI 91 provides that the district registration review committee shall within seven days examine the grounds for the challenge.