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Ghana Group Demands Voter List Cleanup Ahead of November Polls

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - A sign for Ghana's Electoral Commission is seen at a polling station in Accra, Jan. 2, 2009.

FILE - A sign for Ghana's Electoral Commission is seen at a polling station in Accra, Jan. 2, 2009.

A political pressure group has petitioned the electoral commission of Ghana to "clean up" the voter list to be used for the November 7 presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

The group — Let My Vote Count Alliance — also teamed up Wednesday with other civil society and opposition groups to protest in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi.

David Asante, leader of Let My Vote Count Alliance, says his group plans to demonstrate across the country to pressure the electoral commission to compile a credible voter list for use at the polls.

It is regrettable, he says, that the electoral commission refused to implement recommendations by a committee that it established following complaints that the voter list was flawed and not credible.

Asante says his group's demand for a clean voter list is non-negotiable.

"The purpose was to drum home the need for the electoral commission of Ghana to deliver a credible, clean voter’s register through a validation process that the electoral commission committee recommended for us to have a free, fair, open and transparent election, which we believe will guarantee all of us peace after the election. It was that simple," he said.

"[The demonstration] is not going to end here, and we believe it is better for us to speak up today than to watch the nation eventually think along the lines of post-election violence," he added.

FILE - Voters wait three hours after biometric identification machines had broken down, halting voting at a polling station, in Accra, Ghana, Dec. 7, 2012.

FILE - Voters wait three hours after biometric identification machines had broken down, halting voting at a polling station, in Accra, Ghana, Dec. 7, 2012.

Commission: No new list

Opponents of the pressure groups accuse them of doing the bidding of the main opposition party to create tension before the elections. They contend that if the voter list is not credible, then previous elections organized since 1992 — when the country returned to constitutional rule — also were not credible.

Asante disagrees.

"Our electoral processes have evolved with time,” he said. "Our next line of action is to replicate this street agitation in all the regional capitals. … But the ultimate objective of this action is to remind the EC, [to] clean the register through the validation process."

Past ruling

The electoral commission of Ghana previously said it will not compile a new voter list to be used for the polls, despite calls to do so by the main opposition, New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The NPP — backed by other opposition groups and some civil society organizations — had petitioned the electoral commission, saying the current voter list was bloated with minors and non-citizens.

The electoral commission appointed an independent panel to examine the NPP concerns.

However, in a January interview with VOA, panel chair Professor V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe said having a clean and credible voter register is the shared responsibility of all Ghanaian citizens.

"The problem of the voters register is that it's not static," Crabbe said. "As a panel, we had to get into the problems of minors getting on the register and aliens getting on the register. These considerations were uppermost in our minds … you have to appreciate that we have a problem of ethnic communities, which cut across our borders, and we have to take such things into consideration and see how far we can be able to get a voters register, which reflects the people who have a right to vote."

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