The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has sued the Electoral Commission (EC) over the latter’s decision to reopen the voters’ register.
The party said it took the decision because the Commission has not published in the gazette the 21 days’ notice of the planned exercise in accordance with the law governing elections in Ghana.
Eligible voters who could not participate in the mass registration exercise organized earlier this year due to the closure of the borders have been given a one day window to have their names captured in the electoral roll on Thursday, October 1, 2020.
NDC is among other things seeking from the court “A declaration that the Electoral Commission has acted ultra vires in its attempt to reopen and/or conduct registration of voters scheduled for Thursday 1st October 2020 when the Electoral Commission has not caused to be published in the Gazette, twenty-one (21) days’ notice of this voters registration to the political parties and the general public;” the NDC averred in its statement of claim.”
The NDC said the EC has acted beyond its powers in its attempt to reopen the voters’ register for those who could not register in the first exercise to do so.
Those the EC said were to participate in the exercise on Thursday are voters who were outside the country due to COVID-19 restrictions, those who were under a 14-day mandatory quarantine and could not take part in the mass voter registration, and eligible voters who were duly issued voter ID cards but whose names are missing from the register during the exhibition exercise.
But the NDC is challenging the EC’s decision.
It wants the court to grant an injunction on the EC restraining it from reopening the register without first gazetting it.
The NDC also wants the Court to order the Electoral Commission to immediately comply with Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (C.I. 91) for this intended exercise.
60-day period requirement
The EC decided to open the register for the second time following several requests from persons who were unable to register for their voters’ ID cards due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But some political parties including the NDC expressed concerns over the exercise following a 60-day period to the election day limitation specified in the Public Elections Regulations, 2016.
The regulation, among others, states that the EC “shall include in the register of voters, the name of a person who qualifies for registration as a voter and is registered but shall not include in the register of voters the name of a person who qualifies to register as a voter for an election but who registers less than sixty days to that election.”
This implies that, if the EC is unable to meet the 60 days to the polls deadline, even if it registers eligible voters, such persons will not be able to exercise their franchise on December 7 due to such clause in the Public Elections Regulations, 2016.