The Electoral Commission (EC) will today reach out to Ghanaians who have attained the age of 18 and those who could not register during the last voters registration exercise in order to capture them on the electoral roll.
The 10-day nationwide limited voters registration exercise, which ends on Sunday, May 8, 2016, will allow first-time voters to register to be able to vote in national elections and referenda.
According to the EC, it expected some 1.2 million young people and adults to get their names onto the register ahead of the November polls.
The EC has warned that the exercise, which is taking place at over 3,000 centres nationwide from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, is not an avenue for already registered voters to replace lost voters ID cards or to transfer their votes from one constituency to another.
It has given assurance that it will provide back-up kits to ensure that the breakdown of biometric machines do not hinder the exercise.
The commission had initially planned to carry out the registration in March 2016, but since the Constitutional Instrument, CI 91, which was to regulate the registration had been laid in Parliament at that time and was yet to mature, it decided to postpone it to this month.
The law came into effect on March 17
Prior to that, the EC had postponed indefinitely the limited voters registration exercise scheduled for June 20 to 29, 2014 to give room for consultation between the EC and its stakeholders.
Despite the generally low publicity on the registration exercise, all stakeholders are expected to make it a success.
The various political parties are also whipping up interest by encouraging their supporters, particularly those in their strongholds, to register for the November 7 elections.
Already, the flag bearer of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), President John Dramani Mahama, and that of the dominant opposition party, the New Patriotic Party ( NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, have added their voices to the call on eligible Ghanaians to register.
On his official Twitter account on Sunday, April 24, Nana Akufo-Addo pleaded with his followers thus: “Please spread the word about the registration exercise and register.”
That follows that of President Mahama, who is spotted in an advertisement by the NDC persuading young eligible Ghanaians to register.
To whip up enthusiasm for the exercise, the EC has rolled out radio adverts and sent out vans to mobilise potential first-time voters.
Across the country, the EC has published notices and placed signs directing prospective voters to the centres for the exercise.
While the EC is encouraging eligible voters to register, it has warned that it will not be lenient with those who flout the law and register when they are not qualified to do so.
CI 91 — the law on which the November elections is grounded also spells out what constitutes voter ID offences.
Voter identification card offences
Section 29 of the law states: “(1) A person who possesses the identification card of another person without the express consent of that other person commits an offence.
“(2) A political party or any other organisation shall not be in possession of the identification card of any of its members or of any other person without the express written consent of that member or that other person.
“(3) A person who finds a lost identification card shall, within fourteen days after finding that card, surrender the card to the district officer of the Commission or a police officer in charge of the nearest police station, otherwise that person shall be deemed to be in unlawful possession of another person’s identification card.
“(4) A police officer to whom a lost identification card has been surrendered shall surrender the card to the district officer of the Commission within 14 days after the card had been given to that police officer otherwise that police officer shall be deemed to be in unlawful possession of another person’s identification card.
“(5) An individual who commits the offence of unlawful possession of another person’s identification card is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than three hundred penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not more than six months for each identification card which that individual held unlawfully.
“(6) A political party, organisation or a group of persons which commits the offence of unlawful possession of an identification card is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than one thousand penalty units and an additional fine of one hundred penalty units for each identification card held unlawfully.”
Among registration offences listed by Section 28 of the law are registering when one is not qualified, registering more than once, register as a voter in the name of another person, use of force or threat to prevent registration, knowingly giving false information to aid registration, forgery, defacing of posters, notices, papers, documents, equipment, instruments and any other material relating to the registration of voters and registering people at unauthorised places.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, has explained why Ghanaians who wish to replace their lost voters identification cards have to pay GH¢5.
She said the printing materials and lamination of the cards were costly, hence the need to charge for the replacement of the cards.
Speaking at the launch of the EC’s new five-year strategic plan in Accra on Tuesday, Mrs Osei said one would not be disenfranchised without the voters ID.
“There is a GH¢5 fee because the paper, the laminate… they all cost money and it doesn’t disenfranchise you if you don’t have your card because you can vote without your card.
“All that you need in Ghana to vote is your finger so… once you have your fingers and you show up, we scan you on the register, your details come up and you can vote,” Mrs Osei said during question time at the event.