The Constitution of Ghana provides in Article 42 that “every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purpose of public elections and referenda”
It is our right to vote and we are entitled to be registered as voters but it is not compulsory to register to have the right to vote.
Indeed, even though the Electoral Commission is compelled to compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law, we can simply ignore them and go about our business.
Of course, we should then agree for those who decide to register to vote to choose our Government for us while we wait for four more years after the elections.
However, for some categories of persons they are required to register even if they decide not to vote all their lives.
Under our Constitution, some of the requirements for those who wish to be members of Parliament include being a citizen of Ghana, having attained the age of twenty-one years and being a REGISTERED VOTER. The provision in Article 94 (1) (a) that a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament unless, among others, he is a REGISTERED VOTER, has made it mandatory for some citizens to register not only if they want to be members of Parliament but to enable them hold some positions.
A person is not qualified to be appointed a member of the Electoral Commission unless he is qualified to be elected as a member of Parliament, (article 44(1), which implies being a registered voter.
The phrase, “unless he is qualified to be elected as a member of Parliament “, is found in various parts of the Constitution. For the purpose of this piece, the necessary implication is that such a person must, among other requirements, be a registered voter.
It is therefore compulsory for a person who wants to be President of Ghana to be a registered voter. (Article (62)(c).
Ministers and deputy Ministers of state, the Speaker, members of various Commissions like the Public Services Commission, Lands Commission and National Commission For Civic Education are required to be registered voters.
DISTRICT ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
It is also useful to avert our minds to the District Assembly Elections Act, 1994 (Act 473) which provides under section 9(1) that “ a person qualifies to be elected to a District Assembly or a lower local government unit if that person (b) is a registered voter “.
Any citizen who aspires to be an Assembly member or unit Committee member must necessarily be a registered voter. This statutory requirement is also provided in the District Level Elections Regulations, 2015, C. I. 89 under Regulation 3(1)(b).
NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES FOR ELECTIONS
It is provided in our Constitution, the Representation Of the People Law, 1992, P.N.D.C.L 284, the Public Elections Regulations, 2016(C.I.94) and the District Level Elections Regulations, 2015 (C.I.89), that each candidate for election shall be nominated on a nomination form provided by the Electoral Commission.
In the case of a presidential election, a person nominated for election as President requires endorsement of not less than two persons who are registered voters resident in the area of authority of each District Assembly, as provided under Article 63(1)(b) of the Constitution.
Endorsements from registered voters are therefore needed for Presidential, Parliamentary and District Level Elections as the relevant legislation provides.
I conclude by entreating citizens to be registered voters even if the right is not compulsory because it affords us the opportunity to be elected in public elections, appointed to public office or to endorse persons to contest positions, apart from the use of the voter identification card for other purposes, including voting to choose our leaders and representatives.