EC on why guarantor system is no longer reliable in voters registration
Talking about the guarantor system in voter registration exercise, the Electoral Commission of Ghana on Tuesday reiterated and gave further reasons why the system under the current circumstances, has outlived its usefulness and cannot be maintained.
The best proof of a person’s citizenship in Ghana is the Ghana national identity card, the Ghana Card, the commission said.
The use of the guarantor system is fraught with blatant abuse as witnessed in the just ended voters registration exercise, it added.
The Deputy Chairperson in charge of operations, Samuel Tettey said this when he addressed a press conference in Accra on Tuesday afternoon (Oct 17, 2023).
He gave examples of circumstances where some people are being processed for prosecution because they gave false information in guaranteeing for others to register as voters and that the commission will publish their names.
Mr Tettey was giving an update on the just ended voters registration exercise ahead of the district level elections.
He said most countries in the sub-region to mention but a few, Nigeria, South African, Senegal, Rwanda, and Kenya do not use the guarantor system as evidence of identification as a citizen.
Attached below is the full speech read at the press briefing and a video from the briefing.
SPEECH DELIVERED BY MR. SAMUEL TETTEY, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (OPERATIONS) OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF GHANA AT THE “LET THE CITIZEN KNOW “PRESS CONFERENCE.
DATE: TUESDAY, 17TH OCTOBER, 2023.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the media. The Commission is very grateful to you this afternoon for responding to our call to attend this Press Briefing.
The purpose of this engagement is to update the good people of Ghana on the just ended voters registration exercise.
The first update delivered by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission catalogued the initial hiccups associated with the registration exercise and the measures the Commission adopted to address the initial challenges.
The second update dealt with emerging issues of the voters registration exercise and the need for us as citizens to help address the issues.
It is important to note that a credible voters register is one of the main pillars for delivering peaceful and credible elections.
The Commission will therefore not leave any stone unturned in its quest to have a credible register, hence its displeasure at the attempt by minors and foreigners to get onto the voters register under the window of the guarantor system.
The 21-day registration exercise which started on Tuesday, 12th September, 2023 ended on Monday, 2nd October, 2023. The Commission is very much satisfied with the successful completion and outcome of the exercise.
The following measures among other things largely accounted for the success of the registration exercise:
• The registration exercise was undertaken by a well-trained and committed EC permanent staff with a few temporary staff.
• Adequate provision of registration materials hence no report of shortages of registration materials.
• Improved network system.
• Increased in the number of Biometric Voter Registration kits. Some registration centres had between 4 and 5 BVR kits.
• Presence of security at the registration centres.
• Presence of Observers and Party Agents at registration centres.
The Commission projected to register 700,000 (Seven Hundred Thousand) out of registrable eligible voters of 1,350,000 per the 2021 census figures (One Million and Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand).
The Statistical Service projected 450,000 (Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand) persons turning 18 years each year for the years 2021, 2022, and 2023. We did not state that we were going to register 1,350,000 applicants. It is not possible to register every single person who turned 18 for the period 2021 to 2023. We projected 52% of the registrable population of 1,350,000 which is 700,000.
It is important to note that people abstain from voting for various reasons among other things; religious reasons/ belief, apathy etc. and hence not all the registrable voters of 1,350,000 will register. Again, in our previous engagement with the media, the EC stated that the 2023 Work Plan and Budget was based on a Continuous Voters Registration exercise in our District Offices.
We indicated that we did not factor registration of voters on Electoral Area basis in our approved 2023 Budget and Work Plan.
The EC has not stated anywhere that Parliament is to be blamed for not approving its budget hence its decision to register voters at the District Offices. The EC stated that, it prepared a draft C.I. for a Continuous Registration exercise in all its district offices nationwide and had the C.I. passed the EC would have had some six (6) months to register voters at a time of their choice.
The Commission indicated in the previous press briefings that it encountered some challenges including internet connectivity on the first day which were swiftly resolved. It is baffling to hear some people dwell on initial challenges when these were resolved overnight.
Our robust network and internet connectivity accounts for the 90% of applicants who registered Online i.e. using the Internet and the 10% registered Offline. Indeed, if there were issues with our internet and network, we could not have achieved this.
On the guarantor system, the Commission is of the view that under our current circumstances, the Guarantor system has outlived its usefulness and cannot be maintained. The best proof of a person’s citizenship in Ghana is the Ghana Card. The use of the Guarantor system is fraught with blatant abuse as witnessed in the just ended voters registration exercise.
Most countries in the sub-region to mention but a few, Nigeria, South African, Senegal, Rwanda, and Kenya do not use the guarantor system as evidence of identification as a citizen.
If indeed we are committed to strengthening our electoral processes then the Guarantor system must be abolished sooner than later. We call on Government to fund NIA. Additionally, we entreat Parliament to approve/pass the C.I. on the registration of voters.
The Commission abhors the encouragement of minors to register. This is a crime. It does not auger well for us as a nation and we urge all citizens and stakeholders to join the Commission to solve this long age canker. The sad fact is that these minors were bussed to registration centres by citizens who should know better. This is unpardonable and we once again, call on government to resource NIA to produce the cards and the Parliament to approve the C.I. to enable us use the Ghana Card as sole means to identify a person’s citizenship.
The Commission wishes to inform the general public that guarantors who breached the law and perpetuated the act of guaranteeing for more than ten (10) applicants, will not go unpunished.
Their names will be published in the National Dailies and they will be brought to prosecution. It is in the interest of the Commission to register every eligible applicant/citizen. However, the Commission will not sit aloof to let go offenders who flout its laws.
In our previous press briefing, we projected videos and photos of minors in queue registering. Again, as part of our efforts to ensure that every eligible voter gets registered, a directive was issued by the Commission to all its Officers to issue chits/numbers to all applicants in the queue on or before 5pm to go to the registration centres the next day to register.
This measure was to ensure that all applicants who went to the registration centres on the last day and were in a queue on or before 5pm were registered a day after the deadline. Although some registration centres recorded some number of applicants in the queue most centres had less than 50 in the queue and in some cases even zero as indicated below:
REGION REGISTRATION CENTRE NO. OF APPLICANTS IN QUEUE
1. Upper East
Kassena Nankana Municipal 84
Kassena Nankana West 45
Bolgatanga Municipal 15
2. Western North
Bibiani-Anhwiaso- Bekwai 0
Sehwi Wiawso 48
Sehwi Ankontombra 0
Bia West 0
Bia East 70
3. Bono East
Techiman South 131
Kintampo North 0
Kintampo South 0
Nkoranza South 42
Atebubu / Amantin 0
Pru West 0
Pru East 0
Sene West 0
Sene East 0
Techiman North 87
West Gonja 0
North Gonja 12
Central Gonja 147
East Gonja 0
North East Gonja 0
5. North East
East Mamprusi 70
West Mamprusi 155
Mamprugu/ Moagduri 132
We heard stories in the media about very large numbers of persons remaining in the queue after the last day. We wish to state that our checks reveal that there were no large numbers as been alleged. In any case the Commission was successful in registering all persons who were in the queue before 5pm but could not be registered due to the fact that registration ended at 6pm.
I wish to state again that they were provided chits by District Officers and registered the next day.
These are but few examples to indicate that not many applicants were in the queue as reported in some quarters of the media.
The Commission wishes to inform the general public that it has started replacing the ID Cards for voters in the Guan District.
From Tuesday, 3rd October to Thursday, 2nd November voters are required to go to the District Office of the Commission at Likpe Mate to collect their new Voter ID Cards. Between 3rd and 9th November, 2023 voters in the Guan District will be required to collect their replaced Voter ID Cards at the Exhibition centres. After the exhibition exercise the uncollected Voter ID Cards will be sent to the District Office and voters are expected to go back to the District Office to collect them.
This exercise has become necessary because in 2020, voters in the Guan District registered in the Jasikan District. With the creation of the Guan District, their Voter ID Cards bearing the Jasikan District Code have to be changed to reflect the Code of the Guan District. Voters in the Guan District are therefore entreated to go to the District Office and the exhibition centres during the Exhibition period with their old Voter ID Cards and collect the replaced ones/ new ones. The name, age, sex, ID Number of the applicant on the replaced/ new Voters ID Card remains the same except the Code of the District, Electoral area and the Polling Station.
Again, application for transfer of votes for both aspiring candidates and voters started from the 3rd to 9th October, 2023 at the District Offices of the Commission.
105,863 voters applied to transfer their votes to their new residence.
In our bid to ensure that voters who have misplaced their Voter ID Cards are not overburdened voters no longer have to travel long distances to the Bank to pay for the replacement of lost Voter ID Cards. Applicants for the replacement of lost Voter ID Cards are to pay ¢10 through the short code *222* 1067#. Applicants are required to show proof of payment at the District office before being taken through the process for the replacement. Applicants shall be issued with a new (Reprinted) Voter ID Cards bearing the same details as provided at the time of registration or in other words same as the lost one.
Replacement of lost Voter ID Cards is currently ongoing at the District Offices of the Commission. This exercise started on Tuesday, 3rd October, 2023 and voters who have lost their Voters ID Card should take this opportunity to visit any District Office of the Commission. All applicants requesting for replacement shall be biometrically verified before their Voter ID Card is reprinted for them.
As stated earlier, the Commission is very much satisfied with the outcome of the registration exercise.
At the end of the 21-day registration exercise, the Commission registered 910,996 persons as against the projected / estimated 700,000. These are the Regional Distribution of the Registration.
REGIONAL TOTALS %
WESTERN 55,886 6.1%
WESTERN NORTH 31,483 3.5%
CENTRAL 85,152 9.3%
GREATER ACCRA 124,166 13.6%
VOLTA 55,557 6.1%
OTI 26,481 2.9%
EASTERN 92,780 10.2%
ASHANTI 148,284 16.3%
BONO 31,922 3.5%
AHAFO 22,253 2.4%
BONO EAST 39,804 4.4%
SAVANNAH 21,754 2.4%
NORTHERN 76,510 8.4%
NORTH EAST 24,667 2.7%
UPPER EAST 43,641 4.8%
UPPER WEST 30,656 3.4%
NATIONAL TOTAL 910,996
Ashanti Region recorded the highest number of registered voters with 16.3%. Savannah Region recorded the least number of voters with 2.4%.
The Challenged cases were 9,720. This represents 1.1% of the total number of people registered. These are the regional totals for the challenged cases:
The pattern of the gender distribution of applicants where males outnumber females that emerged in the beginning of the registration exercise continued till the last day. Males constitute 51.7% of all the registered voters and females are 48.3%.
Apart from the North East and Upper West regions where females outnumber males, in all the remaining regions there are more males registered as voters in this exercise than females.
REGION MALE FEMALE
Male - 29492, Female - 26394
Male - 16373, Female - 15110
Male - 43569, Female - 41583
Male - 64390, Female - 59776
Male - 28089, Female - 27468
Male - 14494, Female - 11987
Male - 48713, Female - 44067
Male - 74832, Female - 73452
Male -16561, Female - 15361
Male -11269, Female - 10984
Male - 20947, Female - 18857
Male - 11543, Female - 10211
Male - 40834, Female - 35676
Male - 12196, Female - 12471
Male - 22643, Female - 20998
Male -15297, Female - 15359
Male - 471242 (51.7% ), Female - 439754 (48.3%_
PASSPORT - 2711 ( 0.3%)
GUARANTOR SYSTEM - 563,919 (61.9%)
The Commission, as indicated in our earlier engagements with the media will roll out Continuous Registration of voters next year including difficult to reach electoral areas. Each day, people attain 18 years and the best way of capturing these first-time voters is by Continuous Registration at our District Offices. As much as we would like to undertake long term Continuous Voter Registration exercise, would depend on whether the C.I. is passed or not. In the unlikely event where the C.I. is not passed, we have to undertake a limited registration exercise at the District offices including difficult to reach electoral areas. We encourage all citizens and shareholders to assist the Commission to uphold the integrity of the voters register.