Using only GhanaCard is likely to cause serious problems – Bobby Banson tells EC

Chair of the EC, Jean Mensa
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A private legal practitioner Mr Bobby Banson has expressed concerns that if the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana goes ahead with its intention to use the GhanaCard as the only identification document for the continuous voter registration, it could lead to serious problems for voters.

He explained that it is likely to disenfranchise some voters in the 2024 general elections.

Speaking on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday August 6, Mr Bobby Banson explained that the EC will be relying heavily on a document that is being produced by another state institution, in this case the National Identification Authority (NIA) which is mandated to register Ghanaians for the Card.

If anything goes wrong at the NIA relative to the Ghana Card, he said, it means the EC will not be able to register Ghanaians, a situation he feared could result in dire consequences.

“If they limit themselves to that alone there may be some problems,” Mr Banson stated.

A former Chair of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan also warned the EC against limiting itself to just the GhanaCard.

“Ghanaian citizens don’t lose their citizenship if they are 18 years or older but do not have the Ghana Card.

“So, the moot question is: why make the Ghana Card the only means of identification for purposes of establishing eligibility to register to vote,” Dr Afari-Gyan queried while speaking to the state-owned Graphiconline.

The EC, last month, placed before Parliament a draft C.I titled: Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2021, which is expected to regulate continuous voter registration.

Per the new C.I, which would become law after 21 sitting days of Parliament, the EC is seeking to make the Ghana Card the sole form of identification for eligible voters who want to get unto the electoral roll.

The C.I has been referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament. By convention, the committee is chaired by a member of the Minority group.

Orders, rules or regulations made pursuant to provisions of the Constitution or an Act of Parliament must be laid before Parliament for 21 sitting days before they come into force.

The Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) also reacted to this development.

The party said “For the avoidance of doubt, the NDC wishes to state, unequivocally, that it has not been a party to any such consultation or meeting in whatsoever form that resulted in any such decision. The NDC will fully apprise the general public of the implications of the statements made by the Electoral Commission in the coming days on this absurd and unreasonable this decision of the EC.

“In the meantime, the party wishes to use this opportunity to remind the Electoral Commission that under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, every Ghanaian of eighteen years and above and of sound mind is entitled to register as a voter for the purposes of elections. This right to register and exercise one’s franchise is an inalienable right that should not be denied citizens who qualify to exercise same.

“Again, Article 45(e) of the Constitution enjoins the Electoral Commission to undertake programmes for the EXPANSION of the registration of voters. It is for this reason that the NDC cannot be a party to any decision that seeks to constrict access to the electoral roll or
disenfranchise qualified citizens from joining the electoral roll.”

“The party agrees with the venerable former chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Afari Gyan that any attempt by the EC to use Ghana Card as the sole document for voter registration will lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Ghanaians. We are not oblivious of the challenges millions of Ghanaians are going through to obtain Ghana Cards. The recent pandemonium that characterized registration centres due to the unrealistic deadlines for SIM registration is a case in point.

“It is worthy of note, that according to data from the National Identification Authority (NIA), only 16,654,072 million Ghanaians out of a national population of about 31 million had registered for the Ghana card as at July 2022. Of this number, only 13,316,612 million of them have been issued with their Ghana cards.

“It is obvious from this data, that there are many Ghanaians who have just turned 18 years or will turn 18 years by the next limited registration period who may not have a Ghana card. And therefore any decision that seeks to make the Ghana card the sole identification document for voter registration will disenfranchise many eligible voters.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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