By Nicholas Osei-Wusu
The Ashanti Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), Benjamin Bannor-Bioh, says he has no immediate plan to request a time extension for the registration exercise in the region, even though the Electoral Commission has a plan ‘B’.
According to him, despite the initial setbacks in the registration of the applicants coupled with a very low turnout on day one of the exercise, there has been a marked improvement, leading to an average of 90 percent successful registration of all applicants who visit the various Centres across the region every day.
The Regional Director of the EC said this in an interview with GBC News in Kumasi during a follow-up on the progress of the registration.
As at the end of the process on Sunday, September 24, 2023, a total of 80,622 eligible voters had been registered in the region, with 56.3% done through guarantorship.
Ashanti region has the highest number of administrative districts in Ghana at 43, as well as being one of the most populous regions in the country.
It is therefore projected that the region will have a significant number of Ghanaians qualified to be registered as voters to take part in the next two national elections, namely the December 2023 District Level Elections and the December 7, 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary polls.
As the close of registration on Sunday, September 24, 2023, a total of 80,622 persons residing in the Ashanti region with a male domination of 51.1% registered via the guarantor system.
Out of this figure, 84 point-six percent are applicants who were less than the legal registration age of 18 years at the time of the last exercise.
According to the Ashanti Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, “Offinso Municipality had registered the highest number so far with 2,680 and then Akrofuom with least number of 750 followed by the Amansie West with 798.”
Further information drawn from the registration statistics shows that a total of 670 of the applicants have had their registration challenged, requiring that their respective Voter’s Identity Cards are withheld until resolution of their cases.
Of these challenged cases, 437 are alleged to be minors, 93 are said to be non-citizens, and 138 are accused of not being residents of the districts where they registered.
The Regional Director of the EC cautioned against abuse of the exercise and also entreated particularly parents to be cautious of the consequences associated with falsely registering their children.
He warned, “if you’re not 18 years and you allow someone to push you and you come and register, you’re doing more harm to yourself.”
“If you’re 15 and you claim you’re 18, it means you’ve added 3 years to your age, and if you find yourself in the public service and they realise that you registered at this age and they call for your documents, it means you’re going to retire before your age,” Mr. Bannor-Bioh warned.
Unlike the early days of the registration exercise, where there was an apparent low patronage, the number of applicants at the various registration centres visited by GBCNews gave credence to the proverbial ‘Last Minute attitude’ of the Ghanaian to such national exercise as many eligible voters, mostly traveling in buses, had turnout and waiting patiently to go through the registration process.
It was also observed that, contrary to the unstable internet connectivity that characterised day one of the exercise and caused delays, the process was smooth, with stable internet allowing for only online registration and a significantly reduced waiting time.
There were also security arrangements at all the centres, with little or no cause to worry except to help ensure orderliness among the applicants.
Mr. Bannor-Bioh was particularly grateful to people in the Sekyere Afram Plains district, which has many hard-to-reach communities, whose eligible voters had registered in appreciable numbers.