Some guarantors (standing) assisting an eligible voter (seated left) to go through the registration process. Picture: DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO
Some guarantors (standing) assisting an eligible voter (seated left) to go through the registration process. Picture: DELLA RUSSEL OCLOO

Limited voter registration: Voter suppression or vile propaganda?

The 2023 limited voters registration exercise is underway with a cocktail of issues; some challenges others opportunities.


The controversies surrounding the exercise bring to mind many thoughts, including the posture of the Electoral Commission (EC), the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

It is no secret that the governing political parties in Ghana sing the same tune as the EC, while opposition parties do the opposite. This means a lot. Talk in town seems to be in sync with this notion that the EC appears to be in bed with the ruling party with the ultimate aim of helping the party in the direction of a positive electoral fortune.

Read also: EC more concerned about sanctity of voters register - Dr Serebour Quaicoe


While this ordinarily may not be news, it appears suitable for the headlines for several reasons. One is the circumstances leading to the appointment of some of the current commissioners and other officers, deemed politically not colour-blind. The other is the bad blood between the opposition NDC and the leadership of the EC.

Another is the utterances by some officials of the EC on the one hand and the NDC on the other hand. The net effect is a poised atmosphere that suggests two things.

First, it makes it suitable for those who want to believe that the EC is working around the clock to prevent the NDC from winning the 2024 elections to do so. Second, it makes it convenient for those who want to believe that the NDC is exhibiting its dislike for the leading commissioners of the EC through vile propaganda to hold on to that view. 

On the substantive exercise, the EC has explained that this is a limited exercise; hence, those who may not be able to register will have an opportunity to do so during the mass registration next week. Well, the EC may by this suggesting that it is normal to disenfranchise some

Ghanaians when it comes to the local government level elections and not the same when it comes to the national elections.

The demand to have registration in all polling stations may be an overstretched one in view of the fact that it is a limited exercise, although it does not justify disenfranchising any qualified voter.


The stark reality is that the current exercise is a disincentive for many qualified voters to want to go and register. Apart from the financial constraints, which many believe is a reality in view of the economic quagmire the country is facing currently, many communities are simply cut off from the district centres because of the ongoing rains. 

Another challenge is that many roads are simply not motorable. As such, in some communities, there is either no vehicle or only one vehicle travelling to the district capital once every market day. Are we suggesting that being in these communities, through fate or choice, is enough grounds to be denied one’s right to vote after making enough gains since 1992? 

It sounds logical to argue that both the NPP and the NDC have executives at the polling station level. The NPP has five while the NDC has nine.

These executives are in charge of not more than 800 voters at all times; hence, it should not be a difficult task for these political officers to scan within their polling stations and assist qualified voters to go and register at the district centres of the EC. This could be a means of getting these officials to work for their respective political parties.

The danger of the above suggestion is that we are making the grounds overly fertile for vote buying from the onset.

Another interesting thing that puts the EC in a dim light is the developments surrounding the lawsuits. We have heard the EC say that its doors are open to all people; hence, it has not denied any court bailiff from serving the commissioners with an injunction/lawsuit.

We have also seen video evidence from journalists and media houses who covered one of such failed attempts to serve the commissioners with a lawsuit. Surely, someone is not speaking the truth.

The fear of the lord is no longer in our institutions. These do not help in our collective quest to consolidate our electoral democracy. It also feeds into the perception or misconception that the EC is up to something diabolical.


Elections are about choices. We must, therefore, encourage any system that will allow the qualified Ghanaian voters to choose those they want to govern them even if it means a lot of financial commitment.

After all, we all have heard and perhaps now believe that democracy is expensive. Let us avoid tensions and suspicions ahead of the December 2024 general election.


The writer is a Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Education, Winneba

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