The new voter registration exercise yesterday commenced nationwide with anxious applicants queuing early morning to secure their voters’ identity cards for the 2020 general election and beyond.
The first day of the exercise was characterized by the expected crowding and long queues at some registration centres as registrants waited patiently for their turn.
The exercise followed the green light by the Supreme Court for the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new electoral roll ahead of the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The exercise, according to the EC, will be held at about six clusters made up of five registration centres each.
This means a total of 33,367 registration centres will be covered within the country before the exercise ends on August 6, 2020.
The exercise is expected to be conducted in phases, each spanning six days.
Even though the exercise was going on smoothly at various registration centres visited, there appeared to be some confusion as people rushed to areas where the centres have been cited for the first six days.
It appeared some eligible voters did not understand the exercise would move to other areas and therefore headed to the current centres instead of waiting their turn.
Compliance with the physical distancing protocol was also a serious challenge for electoral officers as the crowds milled around with people anxious to be the first to have their names captured onto the electoral roll.
There were also worries on the nose masks protocol as some applicants turned up at registration centres without wearing masks and this led to some arrests by the police.
On the whole, the exercise has been largely peaceful and smooth in many registration centres despite a few challenges encountered at some places.
Meanwhile the EC has indicated that about 7,000 health assistants have been released by the Ghana Health Service to help ensure that the necessary COVID-19 safety protocols are adhered to at the various clusters.
In an earlier statement the Commission also announced the creation of special centres for persons living with disability, pregnant women and the aged.
Don’t use violence to challenge registrants -EC
The country’s election management body has cautioned the citizenry against the use of violence in challenging the eligibility of registrants at the ongoing voter registration exercise.
Ashanti Regional Director of the EC Mr. Benjamin Bano-Bio said those who were in doubt of the eligibility of anyone to register should do so through the challenge form.
“No one has the right to take the law into his or her own hands,” he pointed out in Kumasi, stressing that the citizenry should not resort to violence in putting across their concerns.
In the Ashanti Region, the exercise is being conducted in the EC’s designated 1,196 clusters, which had been carved out of the 5,890 polling stations.
Mr. Bano-Bio said the exercise was being done in five phases and would end in August, saying it was important for all eligible Ghanaians to patronize it.
He expressed satisfaction at the smooth manner in which registration was being done on the first day of the exercise.