NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE NATIONWIDE VOTER REGISTRATION.
The nationwide voters’ registration kicks off Tuesday, June 30. The about one-month exercise is geared towards getting eligible Ghanaians onto a new electoral roll that will be superior to the old register. The new voter registration exercise is scheduled to end on Thursday, August 6.
The register as stated by the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensah, in her address to the nation is the bedrock of our democracy without it elections will not be as desired. The significance of the voters’ register cannot be overemphasised. It is in light of this that every Ghanaian so qualified should avail themselves for the exercise. Now that all the legal battles have been settled, it is essential for all political parties to encourage their supporters to go out there in their numbers to participate in the exercise. Ghana Card, passport or a guarantor are the basic requirements to get registered as captured in the Constitutional Instrument CI 126. The old voters ID Card has been outlawed and cannot be accepted as a prove of identity of being a citizen.
Public education is very vital in this endeavor. It has already emerged that people went to centres in their communities only to be told that the exercise will not take place there. According to the EC, the exercise is being undertaken in phases and it is essential that this arrangement is properly communicated to ensure that people do not feel left out or become suspicious of the entire process. Transparency and strategic communication are key in this enterprise and the EC must in its actions and inaction demonstrate to the doubting Thomases that it is not up to any fictitious game. It was refreshing when EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa declared that the Commission does not intend to disenfranchise eligible voters with the compilation of a new register. To her, the Commission respects and understands the significance of a person’s right to vote, therefore, it would not do anything to compromise that right. Yes, this is reassuring but many will say she should let her actions speak louder than her words.
It is very critical for people who go to the registration centres to adhere to the COVID-19 preventive protocols to ensure that the exercise does not add to our already precarious situation. Let us remember to wash our hands and use the nose masks and hand sanitiser. It is our prayer that the EC and the health personnel contracted to check compliance with the COVID-19 protocols at the registration centres will live up to expectation. PPE should be made available as announced. As a sign of protest, the electorate should avoid centres without PPE so as to get the EC and its partners to do the needful.
Security is paramount in undertaking an exercise of this nature. To this end, we entreat personnel of the security agencies detailed to provide security to be professional in their conduct and exhibit neutrality. They must also avoid undue intimidation and obvious demonstration of partisanship in their dealings at the centres. It is vital to beseech the security details not to become the originators of conflicts at the registration centres. They must let peace, tolerance and decorum characterise their actions at the centres.
It is a civic duty to participate in this all-important exercise so as to give the Electoral Commission the right, credible, fit for purpose and dependable register to organise elections especially the 2020 poll. Let this exercise become a other shining example on our democratic history.
BY DOMINIC HLORDZI, A JOURNALIST.