Voters Registration: EC to roll out a one-day registration exercise Today

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Barring any last-minute hitches, the Electoral Commission (EC) will organize its one-day voter registration exercise today, October 1, 2020, despite a lawsuit filed by the opposition National Democratic Congress against the exercise.

A statement from the EC stated that: “As previously advertised, the Electoral Commission will undertake a one day voters’ registration exercise tomorrow Thursday, the 1st of October 2020 in all its district offices across the country.”

The exercise will allow eligible voters who failed to register in the just-ended process the opportunity to do so.

“Eligible citizens who take advantage of this exercise will be able to vote in the December 2020 general elections,” the statement from the EC noted.

The NDC sued the Electoral Commission 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.

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.”

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 by the EC to have their names captured in the electoral roll on Thursday.

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 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.