Special voters registration for SHS students starts today

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
The Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr Serebour Quarcoo
The Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr Serebour Quarcoo

The Electoral Commission (EC) will, effective today, begin the special voters registration exercise for qualified senior high school (SHS) students who are currently in their various schools across the country.

The two-day exercise will be carried out in about 700 SHSs in the 16 regions, with officials of the EC visiting the SHSs on both days to register students who are 18 years and above for them to exercise their franchise, on December 7, 2020.

The Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr Serebour Quarcoo, who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic said after the initial scheduled two days, there would be a follow up to get all qualified students registered, if need be.

"We are using two days, that is, Friday and Saturday, to do the registration. But if after the two days some students are unable to do the registration, we will go back and get them registered," he said.

He explained that because some of the SHSs were already hosting registration centres, EC officials would not go to those centres to register students.

"Some SHSs are also very close to registration centres and in cases like that we expect that the students will go there and register," he added.

IPAC meeting

Dr Quarcoo added that the EC communicated the arrangements to the political parties at an emergency Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting convened yesterday.

He said although some parties had reservations about how transparent the registration of students in their schools would be, the EC assured them that the process would be done fairly.

He said in addition to the Ghana Card, the Ghanaian passport or two guarantors requirement for voters registration, all students would be required to prove that they were students of the schools in which they sought to be registered.

“For any student to be considered to go through the registration process, he or she must provide a valid student identity card, in addition to the other documents that are required for registration,” he said.

Vote transfer

Responding to a question on whether the students who registered would have the opportunity to be placed at the polling stations of their choice, he said all students who were registered in school would be assigned to polling stations closest to them.

He, however, explained that in the EC's scheme of things, such students might have the opportunity to transfer their votes to their preferred constituencies when the window opened for vote transfer.

'We sent a Constitutional Instrument (CI) on vote transfers to Parliament last week and if it is passed, the students will get the opportunity to transfer their votes to where they want," he said.

On when the vote transfers were likely to start, he said it would all depend on when Parliament would pass the CI.

"If the CI is passed, we will come up with an official announcement on when the vote transfers will be done, but if that does not happen, it means that they have to vote where they have been registered. For now, the focus is on the ongoing registration exercise," he stressed.

Safety protocols

Dr Quarcoo added that EC officials would insist on the required COVID-19 protocols during the registration.

"The school authorities are involved in helping to maintain the COVID-19 protocols and we are hopeful that the schools will even be safer for registration," he said.

He said the wearing of nose masks and social distancing protocols would be followed during the registration exercise for students in their schools.