The Law Society of Ghana has urged the Electoral Commission (EC) to reconsider its position on the limited voter registration exercise being conducted across the country.
According to the Society, it is deeply concerned about the nationwide difficulties associated with the exercise, including the malfunctioning and non-functioning equipment deployed by the EC.
It equally revealed that the Commission’s decision to restrict registration to only district offices with reported widespread malfunctioning of registration machines presented significant challenges to the integrity and sanctity of the electoral process as a whole.
“In light of these developments, the Law Society of Ghana calls upon the EC to as a matter of national urgency, reevaluate the decision to limit voter registration to district offices and consider alternative methods to ensure wider accessibility to voter registration, including, but not limited to extending the limited voter registration exercise to all the existing gazettes registration centers in all the electoral areas of Ghana.”Law Society of Ghana
Contained in a statement dated September 13, 2023, the Society stated that limiting voters to only districts can create barriers and bottlenecks for eligible voters.
It explained that this is for particularly those residing in remote and underserved areas, as it will make it difficult or near impossible for them to exercise their rights and vote.
“We believe that a fair and inclusive electoral process is fundamental to the progress of a society and access to voter registration should be convenient and free from unnecessary and avoidable artificial hindrances.”Law Society of Ghana
Furthermore, the society expressed that it has been reliably informed that in some constituencies like Ayawaso and Klotey-Korley, the EC breached its CI 91. By this, it noted that the EC directed all prospective applicants to its new headquarters near the “abandoned” national cathedral site.
“The net effect is that the EC has converted its own headquarters into a registration center, instead of allowing the registration to take place in districts. This has further compounded the problems of the people in these areas.”Law Society of Ghana
Ensuring free and fair electoral process
Additionally, the Society iterated that the reported issues of widespread malfunctioning of registration machines further exacerbates these concerns.
It expressed that a functioning, effective, accessible and reliable registration system is crucial to ensure that all eligible citizens can register and participate in the electoral process without unnecessary frustrations.
Elaborating on the need to address these challenges, the Society called on the EC to immediately address all the reported issues of widespread deployment of faulty registration machines promptly. This, it revealed, is to prevent any disruptions to the registration process.
Moreover, the group urged the Commission to maintain transparency and open communication with the public, political parties and other stakeholders throughout the registration process to build trust and confidence in the electoral system.
“The EC must consider extending the limited voter registration exercise to one month instead of the declared three weeks to afford all eligible applicants to get their names into the December 2023 District Assembly General elections and the 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections.”Law Society of Ghana
Following this, the Society urged all stakeholders including the EC, political parties and CSOs to work collaboratively to address the challenges. It highlighted that this is to ensure the ongoing registration is conducted in a manner that upholds the principles of fairness, transparency and sanctity of the process.