Dr Mahamudu Bawumia
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has made stunning revelations about some of the flaws contained in the country’s current voters’ register, rendering the document virtually useless.
At a press conference in Accra, Vice Presidential Candidate of the party, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, took time to point at the extent to which the register is bloated, stressing the need for a new voters’ register.
About 80,000 Togelese voters were equally captured in Ghana’s register, showing the flaws in the document.
The NPP is therefore calling on the Electoral Commission (EC), as a matter of urgency, to compile a fresh register well ahead of the 2016 polls.
Present at the press conference were the 2016 NPP Presidential Candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, party Chairman Paul Afoko and General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong, together with other key and influential members of the party including regional chairmen.
Dr Bawumia talked about the curious case of increased National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) special registrations in the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions (both border regions), coupled with the massive increase in voter registrations in some border constituencies between the year 2008 and 2012, which resulted in an investigative work by the NPP to ascertain whether citizens of Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire do register to vote in Ghana’s elections.
Before the press conference, Dr Bawumia and NPP General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong presented a copy of their case for a new voters’ register to the EC, stating reasons they think the existing document cannot be used in conducting any credible elections.
With only 10% work completed so far on ongoing investigations into the existing voters’ register, he revealed that they have managed to identify not less than 76, 286 persons whose faces have been captured in both the Ghanaian and Togolese voters’ registers, sending cold shivers down the spines of his listeners.
But the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC)—not the EC—is struggling to ridicule the NPP’s claims because they claim the people whose names are found in both Ghanaian and Togolese voters’ registers have dual citizenship.
However, according to Dr Bawumia, “what is more troubling with the findings so far is that many of the pictures of the Togolese citizens on Ghana’s register were not taken in a live environment, but rather scanned from existing pictures and documents.
“We actually have an incredible situation of one polling station in Ketu South constituency (Temporary Booth Shikakope-Apekotuime) where most of the pictures on the voters’ register were scanned,” he revealed.
In view of this, Dr Bawumia, whose analysis of the 2012 general elections during the famous election petition hearing earned him the nickname ‘Dr Pink Sheet’, asked rhetorically: “How did these scanned pictures get into the EC voters’ register?” insisting, “This could only have been done by people with the necessary security permissions to do so.”
He noted that “the evidence is therefore incontrovertible that Ghana’s voters’ register has been compromised” and that “it is not a document we can rely on for free, fair and transparent elections in Ghana.”
The Bloated Register
The NPP also expressed grave concern about what its Vice Presidential Candidate called “the lingering disparity” in the total number of registered voters provided by the EC at different times during the 2012 election cycle, since according to him, “the total registered voters for the parliamentary election stood at 13,628,817” while “the total number of registered voters that the EC gazetted for the presidential election was 14,158,890.”
Even though he recalled how the EC initially attributed this difference to overseas registered voters who were registered for presidential voting but not parliamentary, Dr Bawumia said “the Chairman of the EC could not support this claim when the Supreme Court compelled him to do so” and that “he could only produce 705 registered voters.”
“To date”, he indicated, “the EC has not been able to explain who those supposed voters were, and for all practical purposes, the EC used more than one voters’ register for the conduct of the 2012 elections.”
Dr Bawumia went on to expose what he called ‘unusual increases’ in the voters’ register.
According to him, “available data also shows unusual increases in the voters’ register in several constituencies between 2008 and 2012.
“In general, an increase in the voters’ register between two elections of a magnitude above 10-15% is high. An increase of the voters’ register by 25% between two elections is abnormally high and there are also several instances of this,” he noted.
It was for this reason he said “one cannot credibly explain for example how increases in the voters’ register of magnitudes exceeding 40% can take place,” wondering where the people could have come from.
More interesting was the fact that quite a large number of the constituencies with unusual increases in the voters’ register are those that border neighbouring countries. In the case of the Western Region for example, Dr Bawumia said “notwithstanding the oil find, Sekondi and Takoradi saw a 5% decrease in registered voters while Suaman and Nzema East saw increases in the voters’ register by 23% and 27.7% respectively.”
The NPP therefore, among others, made recommendations for a new voters’ register to be compiled to replace the over-bloated 2012 register, not later than June 2016.
The party asked that the new register should result in the issuance of Permanent Voter Cards with biometric information embedded in the cards as was the case in Nigeria recently, while the period of registration for the new register should be limited to a maximum of two weeks and the registration should take place simultaneously across all polling stations.
“The new register that is compiled should be independently audited by an internationally reputable firm before the 2016 election; copies of the new voters’ register should be provided to political parties in both the electronic (csv file) and pdf file formats; the new register should be sorted alphabetically by last name and gender; it should clearly delineate voters registered overseas by country and basis for registration (e.g. mission, scholarship, etc); statistical data supporting the new voters’ register (i.e. total number of votes, split by gender, polling stations, electoral area, constituency, region and country) should be provided to political parties; the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2012 (C.I.72) be amended to ensure that political parties receive copies of the final register of voters based on which the EC will be conducting the General Elections at least ninety (90) days before the conduct of the elections; and finally, resource the National Identification Authority to create a register of all inhabitants of the land. This register will serve as the singular reference for all government offices and programmes like NHIS, Free Education, Youth Employment, Passports, Driver’s Licenses, and Tax collection, which in itself creates a disincentive to provide false information,” he said.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu