Ghana's Independent Electoral Commission is sharply denying reports that the voter register is bloated with more than one million people ahead of this year's general elections. Some political analysts say the reported swollen register could be a recipe for an electoral dispute if the electoral commission fails to address the perception of inaccuracies in the register. Ghanaians reportedly expressed outrage about what they claim to be attempts to cause confusion over the just ended registration exercise.
Both the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) accused each other of encouraging non-citizens as well as underage Ghanaians to register ahead of the elections. Owusu Pare is the communications director for Ghana's electoral commission. From the capital, Accra, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the electoral commission is determined to ensure a free and fair vote.
"We have just come out of a registration exercise, and we are yet to get provisional figures from the region. So, as I speak to you now, nobody can put a finger on any number of applicants that are to be put on the voter register. So it is not true to say that the voter register is bloated. We are expecting that the regions will start giving us the total number of people they registered in the various regions between the middle of this week to the end of the week," Pare pointed out.
He said the electoral commission has yet to determine how many people would be on the register after receiving results from commission officials in the regions.
"Nobody actually knows how many people have been registered at this stage, and that is why I have to debunk the notion that the voter register could be bloated. But we are not in position to tell how many people would be put on it until we have some final figures from the region," he said.
Pare denied speculation about the bloated voter register could undermine the credibility of the December vote.
"Not at all. It is not going to undermine the credibility of the elections. In fact we are going to give copies of every register to all the political parties so the political parties will know exactly how many people we have on the register. Besides that, the system here is transparent at every polling station. We have representatives of the political parties, so they observe what happens at every polling station and report accordingly to their political parties. And if there is anything that goes wrong then they will report it to their respective political parties. So if there is no wrong at any polling station, there is no reason why the credibility of the election could be undermined," Pare pointed out.
He said the register is still in the process of being verified for necessary corrections to be made in preparation for the general elections.
"Remember, the registers we have now are only provisional. After the challenges have been dealt with and the exhibition of the voter register has been done and names have been deleted, then we will come out with a final register copies of which we will give to the political parties. So there is no reason why these registers should undermine the credibility of the polls in December this year," he said.
Pare said the electoral commission would well be prepared to ensure a free and fair vote in the general elections.
"In fact, we have just finished with this registration exercise. There are a few more people to take their photographs so they could be given their voter ID cards. And we hope to complete that assignment in the next two weeks, after which we will go for the exhibition of the voter register. That is likely to take about a week or 10 days. And then there would be the filing of nomination for various candidates at parliamentary and presidential levels, and we will go to the election proper in December. So everything is on course for the polls in December," Pare noted.