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EC to register newly qualified voters annually

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Electoral Commission (EC) is planning to annually register people who attain the voting age of 18 as a way of eliminating some of the challenges associated with mass registration of qualified voters.

This would, apart from improving the system by reducing the registration of minors, also offset the tendency for political parties to plant their activists as registration officers during mass registration exercises. who engage in practices that did not help the system.

Hajia Sahadatu Maida, EC official responsible for the Upper West Region, announced this at a meeting of stakeholders to review the 2012 General Election in the region last Monday.

The meeting, which was sponsored by DFID and facilitated by KAB Governance Consult, focused on challenges that occurred during Election 2012 in the region and recommendations for future elections.

She noted that some of the political parties viewed the EC with suspicion and the Commission equally did not trust certain political parties because of their practices.

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Hajia Sahadatu Maida said: “As stakeholders in the electoral process, we should, therefore, evolve mechanisms that would enable us to build trust among ourselves and share responsibilities.”

She said the meeting was aimed at gathering information and feedback on what went wrong in the last election for improvements to be made in future ones.

Hajia Sahadatu stressed that the meeting had nothing to do with the election petition that was pending at the Supreme Court.

The most contentious issue raised at the meeting was the refusal of political parties in the region to disclose the identities of their polling agents to the EC before elections ostensibly for fear that they could be compromised.

Officials of the EC in the region said that behaviour of the political parties often made their work difficult during elections because they did not get the chance to ensure that polling agents were well-trained to carry out their duties at the polling stations.

Mr Hafiz Bin Salih, Second Upper West Regional Vice-Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), said the NPP refused to submit names of its polling agents to the EC because the party did not trust the Commission and its political opponents.

He suggested that the EC should always train party executives, who would in turn train their agents. - GNA