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Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election today,Voters register not bloated

BY: Victor Kwawukume
Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election today
Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election today

The Electoral Commission (EC) has given an assurance that the register to be used for the conduct of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election today is clean and has not been tampered with.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) which occupied the seat until the death of its Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Emmanuel Kyeremateng Agyarko, on November 31, 2018, has also dismissed allegations by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of a bloated register as being untrue and baseless.

The assurance by the EC and the dismissal of the allegation by the NPP follow a release signed by the acting Director of Elections of the NDC, Mr Bede Ziedeng, alleging that the EC was determined to frustrate the NDC by its refusal to provide the party with an updated version of the voters register because the EC had illegally increased the voters list.

The NDC recounted that it had written to the EC some time in December 2018 for the updated voters register of the constituency used in the 2016 general election, adding that the EC responded to the request on December 28, 2018 and gave the party a soft copy of the register with a voter population of 87,580.

Change in figures

While that register was still in the custody of the NDC, the release said, the party went to the printing house to observe the bagging of electoral materials, where it discovered that virtually every polling station in the register where the by-election would be conducted had additions to the voters list.

It said putting all the additions together, the party arrived at a new total of 88,745, giving a difference of 1,165 over what had been given to the party earlier.

The NDC, according to the release, then raised objection to the use of the said register unless it received some satisfactory explanation from the EC.

Subsequently, it said, the party wrote to the EC for further and better particulars regarding the voters register used for the 2016 elections by requesting for the transfer voters list, the special voters list, as well as the proxy voters list.

To the utter surprise of the NDC, it said, the EC had refused to furnish it with those details and that not even a follow up to the headquarters of the EC on Monday, January 28, 2019, yielded the required response.

The release said the NDC had serious issues with the EC because it appeared the commission was using two different registers which had a difference of 1,165 voters for one election.

EC’s rebuttal

But, in a sharp rebuttal, the EC, in a press release signed by Dr Bossman Asare, a Deputy Chairperson of the commission, and issued yesterday described the allegations by the NDC as baseless and unfounded, explaining that it was untrue that the NDC’s effort to have access to the proxy, transfer and special voters lists had yielded no results.

Describing the NDC’s story as untrue, the EC said the party requested copies of the said lists late on Friday, January 25, 2019 when activities at the commission had winded down.

It explained that letters of the nature as the NDC wrote went through a process of recording at the registry before they were brought to the attention of the addressees and that requests for confidential information required the approval of the chairperson or the deputy chairpersons before the information was released.

The release said while the EC believed in responding in a timely manner to requests from political parties, it would not compromise its processes and laid down systems for any entity.

It said it, therefore, found it surprising that rather than approaching the commission to discuss the issue, the NDC chose to go public, accusing the EC of bloating the register to favour a particular political party.

“These allegations are baseless and unfounded and we call on the public to disregard them.

“We wish to assure the public that the Ayawaso West Wuogon register is clean.

 It reflects the total number of valid voters in the constituency.

It is not bloated, as claimed by the NDC,” the release stressed.

It explained for the information of the public that the Special Voters List, the Transfer List and the Proxy List were contained in separate lists in 2016.

The release said those lists had now been combined with the main list, hence the increase in numbers.

It said it had since provided the NDC with all the registers or lists the party had requested.

NPP’s take

The Director of Elections of the NPP, Mr Evans Nimako, reacting to the concerns raised by the NDC, said the NPP was aware of the 2016 voters register of 88,745, adding that it was that figure that the party had been dealing with.

“We have not had any cause to complain because we have looked through the register and that is what our party people on the ground are using to identify the voters in the constituency.

 The whole issue from the NDC is an allegation without basis and so we would not like to dwell too much on it,” he pointed out.

The focus of the NPP, he said, was to appeal to the constituents to “vote massively for Madam Seyram Alhassan because this is a constituency that the NPP has won since 1996”.

The records, Mr Nimako said, were there to show for the 2012 and 2016 elections, adding that “we are only hoping that the people will come out in their numbers and do the needful for the NPP”.

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