Parliament has by majority decision of 106 to 92 approved the public elections (registration of voters) (amendment) regulations, 2020 (C. I. 126.)
The instrument is in accordance with the powers of the Commission under article 51 with respect to the compilation of a credible and accepted voter register for the conduct of public elections and referenda in the country.
The C.I. was laid before Parliament on Tuesday 31st March 2020 in accordance with Article 11(7) of the 1992 Constitution, pursuant to Order 77 and 16 of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
The C.I. effectively matured by the close of yesterday and paved for the way for the EC to compile the new register with the Ghana card and the Ghanaian passport as the only sources of primary documents for identification.
The Committee on subsidiary legislation, which worked on the instrument in its report to the House failed to arrive at a consensus as to whether or not exclusion of a driver’s license and the existing voter identification card from CI 126 is constitutional.
Presenting the report to the House Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Dominic Ayine noted that the right to register and vote is premised on citizenship underneath Article 42 of the Constitution.
The constitutional mandate of the Commission, he observed, to make regulations under Article 51 for the registration of voters is equally premised on the realisation of the right to vote by citizens.
He argued that citizenship is the fulcrum around which the registration of voters must revolve.
“Some members therefore inquired why proof of citizenship should be limited to only two documents namely, the Ghana Card issued by the National Identification Authority and the Passport issued by the Passport Office.
“The EC contended that though the birth certificate issued by the Births and Death Registry is accepted for purposes of obtaining the Ghana Card under section 3 of the National Identity Register (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 950), the Commission does not include the birth certificate in the proposed Regulations as proof of citizenship.
Debate on report was heated as both sides of the House held firmly to their already espoused stance since the C.I. was first presented to the House.
Member for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, in his contribution argued that the basic responsibility of the EC is to identify potential voters, establish their citizenship, their ages and whether they are of sound mind.
The birth certificate, he said, is the only document that establishes the nationality and age of a potential voter hence it was surprising that the Commission has chosen to reject it as a primary document for registering.
Member of Parliament for Akuapem South Constituency, Mr O. B. Amoah, pointed out that the EC needs to comply with the Supreme Court directives in the Abu Ramadan case.
According to him, to comply with the directive, it was imperative the EC amended C.I 91 with C.I.126.
This, Mr O. B. Amoah pointed out, will now provide the EC the opportunity to compile a new register with source documents that are trusted.
He argued that the use of the national health Insurance Card was unconstitutional and unjust and effectively contaminated the electoral register hence the need for a new registration