The Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) has asked the Electoral Commission to transfer existing data of voters onto the biometric devices to be acquired for the 2020 election.
“Instead of stressing Ghanaians with unending reregistration, the EC should think of more ingenious ways of addressing the voter register challenge,” it said.
According to the GFL, it was unfair for the EC to demand that Ghanaians must go and queue to register again for the compilation of a new register when their biometric data on the current register did not have an expiration date.
This came up at the weekend during an executive board meeting of GFL which was also used as a sensitization platform on the compilation of a new register.
The discussion was on the theme:“Controversy over the timing and re-registration of voters – Imminent Civil Disobedience”.
Members agreed that the timing for the intended compilation was not the best looking at the few months left for the election.
Mr Abraham Koomson, Secretary General of the GFL, indicated that they were worried at the possible outcome of the lack of consensus between the EC and some major political parties which were stakeholders adding that their entrenched positions was a recipe for chaos in the country.
Mr Koomson said from experience, they knew that a chaotic system would affect unions and workers as a whole as innocent people could be targeted and eliminated therefore advising the EC not to lead the country into chaos because of its quest to compile a new register.
Mr Mensah Thompson, Executive Director, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) and Convenor for the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for Good Governance, took members through the history of Ghana’s voters’ register, the challenges the EC presented on the current register as well as the Commission’s aim of compiling a new register.
Mr Thompson, who is an observer member of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), called on the EC to adopt a consultative approach instead of the dismissive way it was handling the concerns of stakeholders who had issues with the new compilation.
He advocated for the use of the current register as according to him, the EC in its report on the district level elections indicated that the current biometric verification device had a 94 per cent success rate adding that a new register could be compiled after the national census and the National Identification Authority’s (NIA) registration which could be used as a guide.
He added that from the reasons given by the EC for the need for a new register which centred on the crushing of their centre, ghost and foreigners names, and obsolete machines, it was obvious that they had no problem with the existing data of voters.
“Data do not expire therefore the data collected could be transferred onto which ever new machines they want to acquire instead of asking Ghanaians to go and register again”.
Mr Thompson noted that it was not feasible to compile a new register and pilot it within 10 months to the elections, adding that if the EC insisted going according to its plans, it meant parliamentary candidates and presidential candidates would be eligible to file their nomination after November 8, 2020 which would be less than one month to the December 7 general elections.
He explained that in accordance with the provisions of the 1992 constitution, a candidate must be a registered voter in the constituency he or she wanted to contest in making it impractical for candidates to pick and file their nomination forms before the November 8 date the EC said the register would be ready.
He also raised the issue of meeting the 42 days before election needed for the application for special voting as contained in the election Legislative Instrument (LI) adding that the EC was yet to sign the contract with Thales Digital Identifying Solution, the company that won the bid to bring into the country the machines.
He expressed worry that even though the EC had a plan to begin the compilation of the new register by April 18th, a date he doubted could be realized as according to him, Thales said it would take about 84 days to ship the machines into the country as it could explode on a transport aeroplane since its batteries were made from lithium irons.
Mr Thompson also asked the EC to consider the implications of the corona virus on the manufacturing of the machines to the specification of Ghana since most manufacturing companies were under producing in China where the machines would be purchased from.