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Limited voter registration begins June 7 - Exercise takes place in district offices, selected electoral areas

BY: Victor Kwawukume
Mrs Jean Mensa, EC Chairperson
Mrs Jean Mensa, EC Chairperson

The Electoral Commission (EC) will undertake a limited voter registration exercise from Friday, June 7, 2019 to Thursday, June 27, 2019 in all its district offices and selected electoral areas across the country

The exercise is to offer the opportunity to Ghanaians who have attained 18 years since the last registration exercise, as well as those who, for one reason or another, have never registered to do so.

The exercise forms part of the EC’s preparations towards the conduct of the 2019 district level elections and the referendum on the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) scheduled for Tuesday, December 10, 2019.

EC ready

Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, said “the commission is ready to undertake the limited voter registration exercise and it is the hope and expectation of the commission that with the measures put in place, we will witness a successful registration exercise”.

She said the exercise would take place in all the district offices of the EC, using the commission’s voter management systems (VMS) installed in the district offices.

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Qualified applicants, she pointed out, would be required to go to the district offices where they resided to go through the registration process.

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Selected electoral areas

Additionally, Mrs Mensa said, the EC would register qualified applicants in a number of selected electoral areas which would be made known to the public later as part of the EC’s publicity campaign.

She explained that conducting the registration in selected electoral areas was to ensure that qualified applicants located in riverine, distant and difficult-to-access areas who could not take advantage of the registration at the district offices were not disenfranchised.

“This is one of the many measures the commission is adopting to mitigate some of the challenges associated with the limited voter registration exercise at the district offices,” she added.

Wrong impression

Mrs Mensa used the opportunity to correct what she said was a wrong impression making the rounds in sections of the public that the term “online limited voter registration” meant the registration exercise could be undertaken online using the Internet or the EC’s website.

Following the commission’s review of the recent limited voter registration exercise at the district offices of the EC ahead of the 2018 referendum, she said, a number of lessons were learnt and in that vein it had taken certain measures to mitigate and address likely challenges.

One of such challenges was power outages, for which the EC had decided to hire standby generators to be used in the district offices and polling centres in the selected electoral areas, she explained.

Power outages

Furthermore, she said, the EC was engaging Power Distribution Services (PDS) to ensure uninterrupted power supply during the registration period.

She said the EC had extended the duration of the registration from the usual 14 days to 21 days to reduce the incidence of long queues, saying: “We are of the view that this will provide enough time to enable those who seek to register to do so in comfort.”

“Again, the commission will extend the registration time beyond 6 p.m. in the event of long queues. The registration period, that is, June 7 to June 27, could also be extended if there is evidence that a number of Ghanaians were unable to do so for valid reasons,” she said.

Ahead of the exercise, Mrs Mensa said, the replacement of voter identification cards would be suspended to enable registration officials to concentrate on the registration of new applicants, and to also reduce delays and long queues at the district offices, the EC was recruiting additional registration officers and data entry clerks who would serve as relievers to ensure that there were no breaks in the course of the day.

Preparedness

The EC Chairperson said the number of VMS kits in the districts that were expected to have a high turnout had been increased between a range of two to eight kits and that priority would be given to applicants who travelled long distances to district offices.
She said registration materials needed for the exercise had been procured and were ready for distribution to the regions and the districts.