Daily Graphic Editorials
Let’s support EC to achieve its mandate
Since Ghana returned to democratic rule in 1993, there has been a continuous improvement in its electoral processes to ensure transparency, fairness and credibility at the polls.
From the era of opaque ballot boxes, the country’s electoral processes have improved to include the use of transparent boxes, biometric verification processes, the use of the images of candidates and their party symbols on the ballot papers.
Indeed, all these improvements have contributed to Ghana being touted as one of the best democracies in Africa.
However, these changes have often come with disagreements among key stakeholders, particularly, the political parties, civil society organisations and the electoral management body.
The disagreements have also come about basically because of the timing of the changes and suspicions that the electoral management body was doing so to the advantage of an incumbent government.
It is, therefore, not surprising that since the Electoral Commission (EC) made its intention clear to use the Ghana Card as the only source of identity for its continuous voter registration, there has been a lot of backlash not only from some political parties, civil society organisations but one of its former chairpersons, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, who believes that the EC must tread cautiously.
When the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, appeared before Parliament’s Committee of the Whole last Tuesday, she reiterated the need to use the Ghana Card as the sole identification document for continuous voters’ registration to guarantee the credibility and integrity of the country’s voter register and aid elections as a whole.
According to her, the use of the Ghana Card as outlined in its new Constitutional Instrument (new draft Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2022) before Parliament seeks to promote the continuous registration of voters and advocates an all-year round registration of eligible voters at the district offices of the EC.
The concerns of opponents of the Constitutional Instrument have to do with the accessibility of the Ghana Cards, the alleged selective successful registration in some regions while others are under-registered.
To the Minority caucus, the use of the Ghana Card as the sole identification document will disenfranchise potential voters.
It does appear then that the accessibility of the Ghana Card is a major hindrance to this new initiative of the EC to enhance the credibility of the electoral roll.
Fortunately, the Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA), Professor Ken Attafuah, and the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta were in the House to give assurances of registering Ghanaians and making the cards available to all qualified persons entitled to be registered.
The assurances were as a result of the concession by the NIA of its indebtedness to the service provider resulting in some cards being locked up at a bonded warehouse.
But our concern has to do with those whose cards have been printed -- 642,403 nationwide -- but have not gone for them from the NIA offices.
Whereas it might be easy blaming those persons yet to collect their cards, it is important for the NIA to review its processes to make it easy for people to pick up their cards.
We are aware of some Ghanaians in Accra who have had to visit about three assemblies to collect their cards without success until they turned to the headquarters of the NIA for assistance.
We believe that if the NIA puts the right processes in place, including a tracking system for beneficiaries to easily trace where their cards are, it will encourage many Ghanaians to register and collect their cards.
The Daily Graphic looks forward to an era where the EC will introduce an electronic voting system that will even make voting, collation and declaration of election results more transparent and quicker to improve the integrity of our electoral system.
We, therefore, call on all stakeholders to jaw-jaw to find a middle ground to calm the nerves and tension associated with every election we have had since 1992.
We believe that the disagreements over the use of the Ghana Card as the sole source of identification can be resolved if the NIA is able to deliver to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders, particularly the political parties and those seeking to register or yet to collect their cards.
We can only improve our electoral management system and not go back to the early days.
Let us all support the EC to achieve its agenda as it will boost the image of the country.