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FLASHBACK: If we listened to NPP, we may have an elitist register – Charlotte Osei

Charlotte Osei
Charlotte Osei

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In a bid to ensure a free and fair general election 2016, the opposition National Patriotic Party (NPP) called for a new voter register with explanations that the old one was bloated with about 76,000 suspected Togolese nationals on the electoral roll.

The NPP suggested that the compilation of the new voter’s register should require Ghanaians to provide a national passport, driver’s license or a national ID card as proof of citizenship, this according to the Electoral Commissioner at the time, Charlotte Osei, would have led to the country having an “elitist register”.

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“How many Ghanaians do you think have these? five million, six million?… I doubt if you can get even 10million… for those who do not have a passport, driver’s license or a National ID card how are they going to be identified as a Ghanaian?”.

With almost 11 months into the 2020 general elections, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is also contesting against plans by the EC under the leadership of the chairperson, Jean Mensa, to change the voters’ register. They believe that it is an attempt to rig the elections in favor of the ruling government, NPP and have promised to embark on a series of countrywide demonstrations if the move is carried out.

Parliament has already endorsed GH¢400 million which will be used for compiling a new voter register.

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Mrs. Charlotte Osei says Ghana will end up with a “very elitist” voter’s register if the Commission gave in to the methods suggested by the opposition New Patriotic Party.

She explained the commission has resolved to audit the voters’ register instead of giving in to the demand by the NPP for a new register.

The NPP says the register is bloated and therefore cannot confer credibility on the winner of the 2016 general elections. For months, the opposition NPP and others had been pushing for the compilation of a new electoral roll.

Charlotte Osei
Former Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei

They insisted the current register is so fundamentally flawed it cannot be relied on for credible elections in November this year. It claimed that there were at least 76,000 Togolese on the country’s electoral roll.

But a five-member committee set up by the EC to look into the calls for a new voters’ register said the evidence provided by the NPP was not convincing.

Speaking to the issue, Ms. Charlotte Osei said the NPP’s method for compiling a new voter’s register requires that Ghanaians show proof of citizenship using either a passport, a driver’s license or a National ID card.

“How many Ghanaians do you think have these? five million, six million?…I doubt if you can get even 10million” Charlotte argued.

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“…for those who do not have a passport, driver’s license or a National ID card how are they going to be identified as a Ghanaian?” she wondered.

Old voter ID cards would be unacceptable and the Supreme Court has already barred the use of and National Health Insurance card as proof of citizenship.

Charlotte Osei also explained the commission can also not use the accepted practice of two Ghanaians testifying to the citizenship of a person who does not have any of the three IDs.

This is because the citizenship of the two can also not be proven with their old voter ID cards, Charlotte Osei said, explaining the limitations imposed by the NPP method.

“We are going to end up with a register that is very elitist and excludes the large majority of citizens. That is not our idea of inclusive democracy and that is not where we think we should be going”, she insisted.

The Electoral Commission has maintained that the absence of a National Identification System is forcing Ghanaians to get a voter’s ID card because it is the easiest method of identification.

In countries such as Kenya and South Africa, citizens have a National ID and therefore do not need a voter ID card to determine citizenship.

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This is not the case in Ghana.

A new voter’s ID will worsen fears expressed by political parties that there are minors and foreigners on the electoral roll because everybody will rush to obtain one even if they are not eligible to vote, the Electoral Commissioner stressed.

In effect “we are going to bring all the Togoleses and minors in”, she feared.

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Written by bawaeric

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