The Electoral Commission, Ghana (EC) has described as “unfortunate” recent statements made by the Minority Leader of Parliament following a meeting of the Chair of the Commission with the Special Budget Committee.
Haruna Iddrisu on Tuesday told journalists that after meeting the Committee, Jean Mensa had suggested that the number of polling centres to be used for the upcoming registration exercise will be reduced.
“They intend to phase out the registration exercise in some 6,300 registration centres out of the 33,000 centres across the country,” the Tamale South Member of Parliament said.
Furthermore, he told the press that the EC would not be making use of biometric data from the National Identification Authority (NIA) in its compilation.
“I do not see any cooperation and collaboration even though that has been made an essential primary reference document. [Jean Mensa’s] assurance is that they will accept it only for the purpose of identity that you’re a Ghanaian. Not a use of the data already processed and stored?”
But in a response to these sentiments by the leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmakers, the EC said it has not indicated anywhere that it was going to use biometric data from the NIA.
It said even the new constitutional instrument (CI) to guide the registration process, CI 126, spells out clearly how the citizenship of a person must be proven with the Ghana Cards.
“Indeed, had the Minority Leader read the CI 126, it would have been obvious to him that the Commission was not seeking to synchronize its data with that of the NIA,” the response captured in a statement signed by Sylvia Annoh, the Acting Director of Public Affairs of the EC, said.
According to the EC, it is even surprising for the Minority NDC to turn around and recommend a collaboration between the EC and NIA when members had accused the two bodies of plotting to rig the December 7 elections for the incumbent president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akfuo-Addo.
“It is interesting that the same Minority which accused the EC of being in bed with the NIA to rig the election, would today turn around and propose data synchronization which would require the EC to work directly with the NIA and rely extensively on its biometric data in its database.”
It assured that no polling station would be left out of the registration just that it will be done in clusters.
“This means that the 33,367 registration centres will be divided into five. Each cluster would consist of 6,780 registration centres. Each cluster would be made up of 5 registration centres numbered 1-5. During the first phase, all the registration centres numbered 1 nationwide will register applicants for 6 days.
“During the second phase all registration centres numbered 2, will register applicants for 6 days. This will go on until all the phases are covered. Thereafter, there will be a nationwide mop-up exercise. At no point during the discussion did the EC state that it was phasing out or reducing the polling stations by 6,780.”
It said even members of the Committee would not have taken such suggestion lightly if it had been made.
“Phasing out and reducing the polling stations by 6,780 is not an issue to be taken lightly by anyone let alone our Members of Parliament.”
The statement expressed gratitude to the Committee “for their continued support and constructive feedback”.
The EC has scheduled Tuesday, June 30 to start the registration for new voters’ ID cards.