The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddirisu, has called on the officials of the Electoral Commission (EC) to consider the possibility of extending the limited registration exercise period to enable qualified persons to be captured.
He argued that it would be unfair for the huge numbers of qualified persons who had been queuing at some of the registration centres, since the commencement of the exercise to be disenfranchised
The Minority Leader made the call yesterday when he visited the Tamale metropolitan EC office to monitor the registration exercise.
Hundreds of qualified people were seen in queue at the Tamale Metropolitan EC office at the time of the Minority Leader’s visit.
Some of the people who have been at the registration centre for the past three days struggled to get their names on to the voter’s register.
Mr Iddrisu was shocked to see the large number in the queue at the last day of the limited registration exercise.
He stressed that the EC should not do anything to disenfranchise any qualified Ghanaian and added that the registration of qualified persons was a constitutional right which must not be tampered with.
Mr Iddrisu, however, admonished the electorate to be patient with registration officials.
He also advised the party agents at the centre to co-operate with EC officials to ensure that only qualified persons got registered.
The Acting Northern Regional Director of EC Mr Lucas Yirifien, revealed that 53,314 people had registered as at Saturday in the region.
He stated that with the exception of initial network challenges, the exercised had been smooth in almost all centres in the region.
Mr. Yirifien indicated that all those in the queues in the various centres before close of the exercise would be captured.
Information available to the Ghanaian Times on Sunday indicated that there were also long queues at other centres.
Abigail Annoh and Jemima Kuatsinu reports that it was feared that a large number of electorates who have attained the voting age 18 years and above could be disenfranchised in the upcoming district and general elections as the EC ended its limited voters’ registration exercise.
The exercise which began on Monday, June 17 took place in all district offices of the Commission and designated electoral areas or centres throughout the country.
Scores of people who had trooped to the centres expressed concerns to the Ghanaians Times, on the visit to the registration centre, that the exercise was slow due to frequent system breakdown, and centralisation of the process, resulting in longer waiting times.
Some prospective voters and party agents present at centres visited including the Commission’s Okaikoi District office which takes care of three constituencies; Okaikoi South, Okaikoi Central and Okaikoi North and the head office, appealed for an extension of the exercise.
Mr Daniel Anim, a party agent of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) at one of the centres visited, shared in the concern of registrants saying, “Personally of all the number my organisers and I were able to mobilise, I can say about 600 have not been registered and may not get the chance to do so.”
Lauding the smooth exercise so far, Mr Anim sided with concerns that the decision of the EC to conduct the registration only at its district offices denied many people the opportunity “because many people live very far away from these offices and some do not even know where the offices are so getting them to come all the way here is quite difficult”.
An 18-year-old Prince Siaw said, “We just vacated from school and I only have today to register. I doubt I can be registered looking at how things are going. I hope the time is extended so those of us who were in school can register.”
The Okaikwei District Electoral Officer, Eunice Yeboah Quaye, told the Ghanaian Times at the times of visit to the centre yesterday that a total of 10,296 people had been registered as of Saturday July 6.
She mentioned challenges encountered during the exercise to include double registration, card replacement, under-age registration, adding that such persons where either cautioned or asked to go through the right procedures.
According to Mrs Quaye, a window had been opened to register the overwhelming numbers at the centre, during the time of visit, as the commission had made available signed and endorsed chits for such persons to enable them undergo the process by close of the day.
“We close at 6p.m. so all persons in queue will be given chits to be presented today for registration and after that we will not entertain any other person,” she said.
A registration officer of the Okaikwei South centre, Edward Bernard Quaye, said the Ghana Card had been of immense help as it assisted in detecting the age of prospective voters to avoid the registration of minors.
He was, however, worried about the increasing numbers of the prospective voters that continued to flood the centre daily.
FROM YAKUBU ABDUL-MAJEED, TAMALE
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