Ghana News Agency (Accra): The voters’ registration exercise has taken off smoothly across the country as anxious applicants queue early in the hope of securing their voter’s identity cards.
The long queues that usually characterise such processes were evident when the Ghana News Agency visited polling stations and witnessed Ghanaians, young and old, waiting patiently for their turn.
Of the 20-plus registration centres in the Ablekuma North and Okaikwei South constituencies, for instance, the process started between 7am and 7.20am.
At the Modern College Science registration centre, the process started at 7.05am and the first person went through the process and got his card in eight minutes.
The electoral officer at the centre, Victor Amissah, said everything including the electoral materials and handwashing facilities had arrived early.
“All is intact and the process is moving on smoothly as political party agents are present,” he said.
EC appeals to voters
Jean Mensa, who chairs the Electoral Commission, has appealed to the Ghanaian public, and especially the political parties, to channel their energies into making the voter registration exercise a success.
“I urge them to move forward with the Commission to implement the ruling of the Supreme Court decision [to empower the Commission to compile a new voters’ register]. Participate actively, monitor the system and draw the attention of the Commission to any anomaly,” she said.
Mrs Mensa said the registration exercise was a critical process in Ghana’s election cycle and the bedrock on which credible elections would rest.
“Therefore, in carrying out the registration exercise, we, as a Commission, are mindful of the significance of the task we are undertaking,” she said.
Mrs Mensa said the Commission’s rationale for compiling a new register was not to disenfranchise any eligible voter but to ensure that all citizens who qualify are allowed to register and cast their vote.
She said the Commission was of the view that only eligible citizens should be given the right to determine who governs and leads “our dear country”.
The EC chair said the Commission, working with the national COVID-19 team, had taken adequate steps to ensure the success of the exercise.
These include setting up registration centres in open spaces, wearing of face masks, checking temperatures, mandatory washing of hands before joining a queue and observing a physical distance of at least one metre in queues at the registration centres.
Other measures are cleaning fingerprint scans before they are used to take fingerprints of applicants, using alcohol wipes, and mandatory sanitising of hands when leaving the registration centres.
Mrs Mensa said the Ghana Health Service had released 7,000 health assistants to each of the registration centres to ensure strict adherence to the safety protocols set out by the Commission.
President Akufo-Addo says it must be the collective responsibility of Ghanaians to ensure that the country has a register fit for purpose for use in the 7 December presidential and parliamentary elections.
“We must all make sure that persons who do not meet the requirements, as set out clearly in the constitution, do not [get] their names into the register. If you aid the registration of an ineligible person, and you are caught, you will face the full rigours of the law,” he said.
Addressing the nation on Monday 29 June 2020, in anticipation of the start of the voter registration exercise on 30 June 2020, the president said: “The election on 7 December must be a Ghanaian election, not a West African election, conducted with a voter register of Ghanaians. That is the only way the true will of the Ghanaian people can manifest.”
President Akufo-Addo urged all eligible Ghanaians to go out and register so that they can exercise their civic responsibility on 7 December 2020: to elect a government of their choice in a free, fair, peaceful and transparent election.
“Using your God-given and constitutional rights costs nothing, but staying home can come at a very steep price. The pandemic notwithstanding, we have to strengthen Ghanaian democracy,” he said.