Thirteen political parties calling themselves the Coalition of Political Parties have backed the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to compile a new voter’s register.
The parties include the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), National Democratic Party (NDP), People’s National Convention (PNC), Convention People’s Party (CPP) among others.
At a press conference held in Accra on Thursday, 9 January 2020, the coalition said it supports the decision of the election management body because the Commission’s justification for a new register is clear, stressing that the compilation of a new register will break the duopoly of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The Convener for the Coalition, Mr Kofi Akpaloo, stated: “We support the Electoral Commission because their justification for the new register is very clear. Also, our main reason is simple: the NDC-NPP duopoly can be broken by us if only the register is very clean.”
According to the coalition, in view of the explicit provisions in the constitution defining the role of the election management body as independent, civil society organisations have a duty to support the Commission in the discharge of its mandate.
“When elections do not go well in this country, it is the EC that will be faulted because it is the only constitutional body responsible for the conduct of elections.
It is, therefore, a patriotic obligation on all other stakeholders, including political parties and civil society organisations, to support and cooperate with the Electoral Commission to discharge its constitutional mandate.”
Meanwhile, the NDC and some groups such as the True Drivers Union, have described the EC’s move for a new register as a wasteful venture.
EC’s Justification for a New Register
The EC believes the integrity of the 2020 polls could be undermined if a new roll and a new Biometric Voter Management System are not put in place.
In a statement, the EC said: “The current kits and solutions are obsolete: They are End-Of-Life (EOL) and can no longer be supported by their Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). The immediate past vendors of the solution proposed that the Commission replace all the equipment and also upgrade the Data Centre. This was rehashed by the Consultants we engaged to audit our systems.
“It is important to emphasise that whether we compile a new voters’ register or not, there is the need to acquire new equipment to replace the obsolete kits acquired in 2011. It is therefore important to delink the procurement of equipment and kits from the registration exercise.
We state again that whether or not the EC compiles a new register or conducts a limited registration exercise, we will procure new kits to replace the obsolete ones. Additionally, we will acquire a new data centre with robust state-of-the-art servicers and equipment at the cost of 6 Million Dollars instead of upgrading the existing one at the cost of 15 million United States Dollars as proposed by the previous vendors.
“Again, we are replacing the existing software with a new one to enable us own and control our systems unlike the previous situation where the solution was owned, controlled and managed by the vendors.
“There is no doubt that the voter register is bloated. The bloat is because we have not developed an effective way of cleaning the register. The bloated register increases the cost of our elections. The Commission always procures election materials based on the number of registered voters. This causes a lot of waste as the number of registered voters exceeds the actual voters.
“Considering the above challenges, the Commission has come to the conclusion that it will be cheaper and prudent to acquire new BVRs and BVDs which are robust and user friendly than to upgrade old and obsolete ones. Again, the Commission will go ahead with the preparation of a new biometric voters’ register based on the reasons provided earlier”.