Officials of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by its National Director for Information Technology (IT), Osei Kwame Griffiths, yesterday observed and participated in the Electoral Commission’s national piloting of its new biometric voter registration kits and the operation of the new software.
The NDC has been opposing the compilation of new a voters’ register and wants the EC to use the old voters’ register for the general elections in December.
The PNC, whose executives are divided over the register, also sent representatives to the premises of Ridge Church in Accra, where the national pilot registration took place, led by its national organizer, Desmond Twumasi Ntow.
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) also sent representatives, led by former National Chairman, Peter Mac Manu, while the presidential candidate for the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), Percival Kofi Akpaloo, was also present to participate in the event.
Officials of the EC, led by Chairperson Jean Mensa, were also present to monitor and observe the process which will culminate in the scheduled nationwide new voter registration exercise scheduled to start on June 30 and end on August 6, 2020 at 33,367 polling centres.
There were two registration centres, one meant for representatives of the political parties to go through the mock registration exercise and the other meant for selected members of civil society groups, including the clergy who underwent the registration using either the new NIA Ghana Card or a valid Ghanaian passport, which were the two permissible ID cards for the registration.
Before one enters the premises, there are Veronica buckets, bars of soap and tissue papers placed at the entry point with an EC official who will ensure that any person coming to register washes his or her hand before joining the queue, with social distancing protocol also being strictly observed.
Briefing journalists at the pilot registration centre, the Director in charge of Electoral Services at the Electoral Commission, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, said that piloting at the regional levels took place on May 2 and May 3 to allow regional party representatives know the process better.
According to him, the EC’s national registration exercise will go on as scheduled beginning from June 30 with strict observation of Covid-19 health protocols during the whole process.
He said apart from the Ghana Card and a valid Ghanaian passport which will be accepted to prove one’s Ghanaian nationality, prospective applicants who do not have any of them could be vouched for by two registered Ghanaians.
According to him, a registered person can vouch for 10 people to prove their Ghanaian nationality to enable him or her to register.
Dr. Quaicoe explained that averagely the EC expects 100 people to be registered in a day at a polling centre, but if the process goes on very fast, a maximum of 250 people could be registered at a polling centre.
He expressed the hope that all the political parties would cooperate with the EC to ensure a successful registration exercise.
Mr. Mac Manu said the process so far has been smooth.
He, however, said that it will be very important for the EC to constantly educate the public on information that will have to be captured on the primary form or Form 1A.
He said if the EC educates members of the public on the necessary information needed to be captured on Form 1A, it will help reduce the processing time for every registration.
Mr. Twumasi Ntow told DAILY GUIDE that his party has serious concerns over health safety of individuals who will congregate at a polling centre to register, stressing that if a person has COVID-19, how is he or she going to be treated at the centre.
He also said that the time the registration will take place will not allow transfer of votes and special voting to be effected, which will be problematic for conduct of fair elections.
Mr. Griffiths said the NDC also has concerns but will address the press later on those concerns.