The Director of Election Services at the Electoral Commission, Dr Serebour Quarcoo, has said the election management body insists on making the Ghana card the only document for voter registration, explaining that parliament has not rejected its constitutional instrument intended to achieve that but has only made proposals that are not binding on the EC.
He told Accra-based Metro TV that the process for laying the C.I. has not been totally gone through for the bill to even be laid, and, thus, claims that parliament has rejected the C.I. are neither here nor there.
Both sides of parliament expressed reservations with the C.I. early this month.
In its report, the Committee of the Whole, before which the EC, National Identification Authority and the Finance Ministry appeared to speak on the matter, said the election management body must ensure all eligible voters get C.I. is brought before the house again.
The committee also expressed qualms about the scrapping of the guarantor system.
It also objected to the EC’s move to limit continuous registration exercises to the regional, and district capitals and offices determined by the commission.
Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alex Afenyo-Markin, said: “It must be emphasised that in coming to a conclusion on the way to go on the C.I., this matter was not a partisan one, but it was one that all of us had an interest in, and, so, I will want to dispel any notion out there that whereas the NDC was against the EC, the NPP was for the EC.”
However, he added: “It must be emphasised that should the C.I. be considered by the Electoral Commission, it is upon us, to educate our people, because unlike the old C.I., no impression should be given to those without a Ghana Card that they can just go and expect anybody at all to guarantee for them.”
Deputy Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim, on the other hand, said: “I want to call on colleagues from all sides to vote to adopt the report because doing so will do the country some good.”
However, Dr Quarcoo has said the observations of parliament comprise are “just a proposal to us”.
“We are not bound by those proposals”, he said, adding: “We have been given a constitutional mandate and they have given us the process that we can go through, so, all these preliminary procedures are issues that are supposed to be a form of negotiations”.
“I don’t think they are [binding on us] that if parliament says it, we are bound by that”, he stressed in an interview with Accra-based Metro TV on Wednesday, 19 April 2023.
“The only thing the Constitution has prescribed is that if they don’t agree, it should be laid and they should reject it, so any other thing is just a proposal”, he noted.
Some two months ago, EC Chairperson Jean Mensa assured the house that C.I. was not for the compilation of a new voter register.
Briefing the house on Tuesday, 28 February 2023 about it, Mrs Mensa said: “We would like to assure the house that we are not seeking to prepare a new register”, she said, explaining: “The C.I. is for a continuous registration and not for a new register”.
“Under the limited voter registration process, registration was conducted at limited periods and was not done all-year-round”, she said, noting: “This made it such that persons who turned 18 after the registration period could not do so after the time set for the limited registration, which usually is within 2 to 3 weeks.”
“Under the new C.I., anyone who turns 18 can simply walk into any of our district offices and register to vote”, she indicated.
“This is a departure from the previous one”.
“The main advantage of this is that potential voters can register anytime, any day”.
“Eligible persons will be at liberty to do it at their leisure because it will be an all-year-round activity.”