A suggestion has gone to the Electoral Commission (EC) to extend the period for re-registration of persons whose names were deleted from the voters register because they got onto the electoral roll using National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards.
The names of 56,772 people who used NHIS cards as a form of identity were deleted from the electoral roll by the EC in compliance with a Supreme Court order on July 5, 2016. But by Wednesday, July 27, 2016, the EC had re-registered 22,107 of them, meaning that more than 34,665 had not re-registered.
Many have, therefore, publicly expressed fear that most of the deleted registrants could be disenfranchised if a window of opportunity is not extended to the affected people.
But the EC has signalled its intention not to extend the re-registration date. This is because in its view, if such people wanted to get re-registered, they could have done so well within the period earmarked for the national exercise.
While the EC’s position can very much be understood, it is the view of the Daily Graphic that the call for extension by CODEO and other bodies must be given serious consideration by the EC to give the opportunity to as many as possible of the affected people to re-register.
It must also be pointed out that the re-registration exercise was done alongside a voter exhibition exercise currently underway to allow eligible voters to verify their details in the register.
So far, 4,173,959 citizens have been verified in the exercise which is expected to end on August 7, 2016.
The Daily Graphic is aware that the EC is already engaged in public education through live TV programmes, radio interviews, newspaper advertisements and stories, publication of the names in the print media, publications on various media websites and the commission’s sites. Additionally, radio commercials have been placed on many stations in all the major dialects.
With a few days to the end of the national exhibition exercise, and notwithstanding the laudable efforts by the EC, it cannot rest on its laurels but intensify its public education and campaigns to whip up more interest in the exercise.
It is important for the EC to do everything possible to reverse the low turnout by using other means, including the beating of gong-gong in the rural and remote communities, to whip up more interest in the exercise.
The Daily Graphic would like to encourage every registered voter who has not yet done so to take a walk to an exhibition centre to avoid polling day inconvenience.
It is equally imperative for all political parties to call on their supporters, sympathisers, friends and families to go out and get verified, so that we can select our preferred candidates on election day.