Ghanaian Politics: EC Registered 20,000 minors in 2012 – IDEG

Dr Kwesi Jonah
Dr Kwesi Jonah
A senior research fellow at the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Kwesi Jonah, has revealed that an estimated twenty thousand (20,000) underage persons managed to register in 2012, despite monitoring of the registration process by political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs).

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To this end, Dr. Jonah called for increased vigilance by political parties and CSOs especially, during the upcoming limited voters registration exercise slated for April 2016.

That, according to him, will help prevent minors from getting into the register in the first place.

He went on to stress that it will also save the Electoral Commission (EC) and the nation, the trouble of having to find means of deleting the names of such minors.

Dr. Jonah was speaking in Accra yesterday at the 3rd Annual Lectures organised by Today Newspaper, a subsidiary of Groupe Nduom (GN).

The lecture was on the theme; “Reforming Ghana’s Electoral System: A pre-condition for peaceful elections in 2016.”

And speaking on the topic “How to ensure transparency and accountability in the 2016 elections,” Dr. Jonah tasked the various stakeholders to take their responsibilities very seriously during the limited voters registration exercise.

According to him, heightening vigilance at every stage of the electoral process was key in ensuring transparency and accountability in the country’s electoral system.

He said during every registration exercise political parties and CSOs send their agents to monitor the process.

However, he wondered how as many as twenty thousand (20,000) minors managed to get into the register “under the watchful eyes of the political parties and under the watchful eyes of civil society organisations.”

He revealed that more than half of the minors did not turn up to vote on voting day after they were threatened that the police would arrest them.

Dr. Jonah argued that such an occurrence would not have been possible had the political party agents and independent observers lived up to their responsibilities.

The EC has tentatively scheduled its limited registration from April 28 to May 8, 2016 to allow Ghanaian citizens who have turned 18 years recently and those who are above 18 years but could not register in previous registration exercises to have their data captured in the electoral roll.

“We cannot afford to do business as usual .This time around it should be business unusual,” he maintained, whiles emphasising the need for the citizenry to take the exhibition of the voters register seriously.

That exercise, Dr Jonah pointed out, should interest political parties and all those calling for transparency in the electoral system to fully participate during the exhibition campaign.

Dr. Jonah, who is a senior lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, also bemoaned the general apathy during the exhibition exercise, saying “less than forty per cent (40%) of registered voters bother to check their names.”

This year’s exhibition, he stated, was very critical and should concern the political parties and all and sundry since the EC has proposed to use the exercise to do the cleaning up of the register.

Dr. Jonah therefore urged Ghanaians to take full advantage of the exhibition exercise as a way of helping to ensure transparency and accountability in the electoral system.

He also encouraged the citizens to volunteer information about deceased relatives in order that their names could be deleted from the voters register.

He further advised stakeholders to take advantage of the systems inherent in our electoral process designed to bring about more transparency and accountability such as a transparent process of printing the voters register which process allows political parties to monitor the printing, storage and distribution of election materials.

Other processes, he cited, include monitoring of the actual voting and the declaration of results.

Dr. Jonah tasked the security agencies to play their roles effectively before, during and after elections whiles urging the adoption of a police patrol approach to elections rather than a fire-fighting approach which is often reactionary.

For his part, speaking on the topic “Emerging technologies that can transform elections,” an IT Consultant, Mr. Akwasi Boaye-Akyeampong, advocated for the full deployment of technology in future elections with little human involvement.

He envisaged a stage where it would become possible for the electorate to vote online.

He encouraged the EC to make it possible for registered voters to vote everywhere they find themselves.

The current electoral rules allow voters to cast ballots only at centres where they registered or transferred their votes.

But Mr. Boakye-Akyeampong advocated for a change in this system.

According to him, electronic-voting to a greater extent eliminated the problems associated with the current manual system of voting and collating of election results.

He said the process among other things was less time-consuming, eliminates the incidence of spoilt ballots, allows quick tabulation of results without human interference and hence eliminates fraud.

Mr. Boakye-Akyeampong also urged closer collaboration between the EC and the National Identification Authority (NIA) and other stakeholders to produce a credible voters register.

Earlier, acting Manager of Today Newspaper, Mr. Richmond Duke Keelson, in his welcome address said the year 2016 is very significant for Ghanaians and that whiles political actors were fervently preparing for serious politicking in this election year, the management of Today Newspaper believes “how to ensure peace in the days leading to this year’s elections, during and the immediate aftermath” is a fundamental issue that should be of primary concern to every Ghanaian.”

He observed that most Ghanaians think peace should only be a paramount concern in an election year.

He said however, that ensuring peace was a continuous process and therefore should not only be restricted to an election year.

“We on Today Newspaper will continue to press home this very important issue in our pages at all times. As we press for a change of what we consider as a national mindset, we believe we have a responsibility to help address what could possibly contribute to any form of disturbances in this year’s elections.”

He said that “already some political actors are beginning to prepare the minds of their supporters to reject the outcome of this year’s election if they fail to win.”

Mr. Keelson further pointed out that concerns some political parties raised with the electoral register called for a more consensus building on the issue.

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