A lecturer in political science at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Mohammed Abass, has urged Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) to put measures in place to have another bout of the limited voter registration exercise.
He said the move was necessary to ensure that several persons who were unsuccessful in getting their names on the voter roll for various reasons are captured by the EC on the register. To him, given Ghana’s experience with the democratic process, the matter of registering new voters should not have encountered the challenges witnessed by the electoral body.
The EC carried out its limited voter registration exercise from April 28 to May 8, 2016 across the country and witnessed skirmishes mainly between supporters of Ghana’s leading parties – the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“Politically, given the number of years we have practised democracy, in my view, what we witnessed in the limited voter registration should not have happened. We have practised democracy for more than 20 years and when we are having a registration for persons who have attained voting age to be able to vote in the election, it should be a very normal process. We did not even have to hear a word of insult, much less vandalism and violence, macho men and other things. It is something we have to address if we want our democracy to improve. From what I saw as a political scientist, I will say that ethically and given our level of maturity and the democracy we are practicing, we should not have seen this,” Mr Abass stated on Accra News on Monday May 9.
He said the inability of some persons to register due to administrative challenges with the process was “a big problem” given that one of the most fundamental rights for citizens in a democracy like Ghana’s was the power to vote in an election.
“And the very first process to enable one to vote in an election is registration. So, this is a very serious problem because if even one person is unable to write his name to enable him vote in an election, then the whole nation owes that person an obligation to have him write his name and vote. So, it should not have happened,” the lecturer continued.
“But even seeing that this has happened, the EC could have extended it, instead of ending the process with the intention of probably registering potential voters later because its equipment are still available and they could have recruited people to ensure that happened.
“I think the violence and tension that surrounded the exercise made them unwilling to extend the date because if they did it, it could have led to further problems. In spite of these, it is something they have to do before the elections, and it is something they must do quickly in order not to create further agitations, so, people do not mobilise to do what they should not be doing.”