THE MEMBER of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, has thrown his weight behind the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to adopt the Ghana Card as the sole identification document for voter registration ahead of the 2024 elections.
According to him, the Ghana Card should replace the Voter ID card for voting in elections in Ghana.
In July, the EC placed before Parliament a draft C.I titled: ‘Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2021’, which is expected to regulate continuous voter registration.
Per the new C.I, the EC is seeking to make the Ghana Card the sole form of identification for eligible voters who want to get onto the electoral roll.
The C.I has been referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament. By convention, the committee is chaired by a member of the Minority group.
This is contrary to the view of his political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which has served notice that it will resist any attempt by the EC to use the Ghana Card as the sole identification document for voter registration ahead of the 2024 elections.
According to the NDC, such a decision will disenfranchise many qualified Ghanaians.
In a statement released by the NDC and signed by the National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, it said it will reject any attempt by the commission to go ahead with its plan.
“The party wishes to use this opportunity to remind the Electoral Commission that under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, every Ghanaian of eighteen years and above and of sound mind is entitled to register as a voter for the purposes of elections. This right to register and exercise one’s franchise is an inalienable right that should not be denied citizens who qualify to exercise same,” the party noted.
The party also said it will not sit aloof and watch the ruling NPP undermine the 2024 polls with the Electoral Commission.
“We wish to assure Ghanaians that the NDC will not sit aloof for the NPP government to collude with Electoral Commission to rig the 2024 elections and inflict more pain and hardships on them. We are therefore urging our agitated supporters to remain calm as we take all legitimate and appropriate steps to ensure that they are not disenfranchised,” it stated.
However, Mr. Ayariga indicated using the Ghana Card to vote will be more prudent.
He pointed out that, “The law doesn’t say we cannot change it [the card used to vote]. We can change it to say if you have a Ghana Card, the Electoral Commission should recognise that for the purposes of voting because the same information that you are going to give to get a Ghana Card is the same information that the Electoral Commission would be asking for.”
“As we speak, I personally don’t have a problem with saying if you have a Ghana Card, just go to the polling station and show it to the EC and vote.”
The MP, speaking on Citi TV, was of the strong belief that using the Ghana Card would make life easier for Ghanaians.
“Why should I struggle to get a Ghana Card and after that go and struggle to get a voter ID Card?” he quizzed.
Mr. Ayariga further suggested that the EC should work with the National Identification Authority to make sure everyone gets the Ghana Card.
“They cannot insist that I must get a Ghana Card before I come and get a voter identity card. I don’t think that this is constitutionally right,” he mentioned.
In a related development, Director of Electoral Services at the Electoral Commission, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, says the use of the Ghana Card will help strengthen the electoral register and reduce the mistrust that has often characterised elections in the country.
Speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis and current Affairs programme ‘News File’ on Saturday, Dr. Quaicoe said though Article 42 of the Constitution clearly specifies the criteria for one’s eligibility to vote as a Ghanaian as 18 years and above, only the Ghana Card, as an identity, will be able to establish that.
He said, “Article 42 of the Constitution says that if you are 18 years and a Ghanaian and above, and of sound mind, you qualify to vote. I believe that anything that the Electoral Commission will do to prevent people from voting then it is an anthithesis and we are going against our own rule.
“Bear in mind the law says if you are a Ghanaian and 18 years and above, how do we establish that? Are we saying that anybody who presents himself as a Ghanaian and 18 years should be registered? We, therefore, believe that all these accusations especially amongst the two major political parties will stop,” Dr. Quaicoe added.
According to him, the confusion surrounding the 2020 elections and past ones and accusations of registration of minors and foreigners by the political parties could all have been averted if the country had a unified form of identification.
He continued that the Electoral Commission therefore, has to continuously update its activities to suit changes that may arise in the interest of Ghanaians in order to prevent the recurrence and mistrust that has often characterised party elections in the past, sometimes leading to people losing their lives during elections.
BY Vincent Kubi & Ebenezer Amponsah