Dr Bossman Asare, Deputy EC Chairperson

The Electoral Commission has denied claims by the Minority in Parliament that some 6,300 registration centres would be phased out in the impending voter registration exercise.

According to the Commission, all the 33,367 centres would be covered by the end of the exercise, which would be done in five clusters.

A Deputy EC Chairperson, Dr Bossman Asare, gave the assurance after the Minority alleged that the Commission intends to do away with some registration centres.

This was after the Special Budget Committee of Parliament yesterday met with the EC led by its Chairperson, Mrs Jean Mensa.

Dr Asare indicated that the exercise will be conducted in five phases and aimed at covering 20% of the registration centres made up of 6,000 centres.

“By the end of the exercise every registration centre would have been covered. People would not need to travel far to register. They just have to be patient and wait for the exercise to get to their areas,” he said.

The Commission, Dr Bossman said, does not plan to reduce the number of existing polling stations and therefore the Minority assertions are far from the truth.

Minority’s allegation

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority had alleged that the EC was moving dangerous to phase out 6,300 registration centers out of the 33,000 centers across the country.

The move, the Minority said, was a recipe for chaos for the impending 2020 elections and the very survival of the Ghana’s multiparty constitutional democracy.

Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu gave the warning after the EC Boss Jean Mensa briefed Parliament’s Special Budget Committee on the programmes of the Commission for the impending elections.

“I know that 33,000 reduced by 6,300 is a precipice for grave threat to the sustenance of the competitive multiparty constitutional democracy in Ghana.”

According to him, the Mrs Mensa made another starling statement when she indicated that the EC does not intend to use data on the National Identification Authority (NIA) card.

He argued that she does not understand the essence of data synchronization and data harmonization, questioning the insistence of the Commission to use the Ghana card when there is no intention to share data.

The microchip in the Ghana card, he said, should be built into a dedicated and well-built software and hardware that holds the bio data of citizens.

This, the Minority Leader stressed, should necessarily come up during the voter registration to verify and authenticate the holder at the polling station.

“However she emphasized that they would use it only for the purpose of identity that the holder is a citizen of Ghana. So any person who walks there would have no opportunity for verification or authentication of their bio data.

“I do not see cooperation and collaboration even though the Ghana card has been made an essential primary reference document,” he said.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu expressed concern about the future of the intended exercise when data already processed and stored on the Ghana card would not play any role in the registration.

According to him, the NDC and the Minority in Parliament see no legal or technical justification for the new voter register per responses from Mrs Jean Mensa at the meeting.

The Minority leader also expressed shock at admission by the EC Chair that they have already procured a biometric voter management system, a biometric voter registration system and biometric voter verification system for the intended exercise.

The EC, he said, should make them available for inspection by the Committee of Parliament and urged the minority on the committee to take keen interest and inspect the devices.

He stressed that the EC boss should be programmed to brief the Committee of the Whole, especially when her predecessors, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and Mrs Charlotte Osei, had both done same in the past.

According to the Minority Leader, this will enable all MPs to appreciate her responses.

The Minority, Haruna Iddrisu said, is committed to Ghana’s democratic journey, its values and ethos and stressed that a credible voter register remains a sine qua non to the conduct of a free, fair and credible elections.