The National Democratic Congress (NDC), has faulted the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana for embarking on voters’ register exhibition exercise without consulting stakeholders.
The party described the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa as an autocratic leader because she did not call “an IPAC meeting to discuss such an important activity for the inputs from political parties and other stakeholders”.
The NDC at a press conference yesterday September 21, 2020 among other things, raised concerns over the duration for the exhibition exercise which gives registered voters the opportunity to validate their personal information in the newly compiled register.
According to the main opposition party, the eight days allotted for the exhibition of a register of 16,963,306 prospective voters from September 18 to 25, 2020 is inadequate for all registered to verify their details.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the exhibition of the voters’ register is a critical aspect of our electoral process. It is through the exhibition exercise that citizens who register get the opportunity to confirm that their names and other details are duly captured on the voters roll such that they will not be disenfranchised on voting day. In view of the importance of this exercise the duration for exhibition in the past was between 11 and 21 days. In 2012 when a new register was compiled, the duration for the exhibition exercise was 11 days (1st to 10th September, 2012). Even in 2016 where only limited registration was conducted in preparation for that year’s elections, the duration for the exhibition exercise was 21 good days (18th July to 7th August),” the party stated.
Read full statement below
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen from the media and welcome to this all-important Press Conference. Your presence here gives us comfort that we can count on you in raising critical issues that affect our country and our democracy in the supreme interest of the people of Ghana.
As you are aware, the Electoral Commission commenced an exhibition of the provisional voters register on 18th September 2020. Our observation of the exercise so far revealed grave anomalies that threaten the conduct of Peaceful, Free and Fair elections on December 7 this year. We, therefore, invited you here this morning to share our observations with you and the entirety of Ghanaians.
The NDC wishes to emphatically state that since the inception of the fourth republic we have not seen our otherwise respected EC present to the good people of Ghana such a malformed and anaemic register going into a major election. While we will present you with impeccable evidence on the serious anomalies on the provisional voters’ register, we also encourage you our friends in the media and all well-meaning Ghanaians to make time and visit exhibition centres to see for yourselves the mess that the Jean Mensa and Bossman Asare led EC has created.
LIMITED DURATION FOR THE EXHIBITION EXERCISE
Ladies and Gentlemen, the exhibition of the voters’ register is a critical aspect of our electoral process. It is through the exhibition exercise that citizens who register get the opportunity to confirm that their names and other details are duly captured on the voters roll such that they will not be disenfranchised on voting day.
In view of the importance of this exercise the duration for exhibition in the past was between 11 and 21 days. In 2012 when a new register was compiled, the duration for the exhibition exercise was 11 days (1st to 10th September, 2012). Even in 2016 where only limited registration was conducted in preparation for that year’s elections, the duration for the exhibition exercise was 21 good days (18th July to 7th August).
Unfortunately, with the 2020 registration exercise that was characterized by various anomalies, chaos and also involves close to 17 million prospective voters, the EC rather strangely announced an 8-day exhibition exercise. We wish to also place on record that unlike in the past where the EC called an IPAC meeting to discuss such an important activity for the inputs from political parties and other stakeholders, as characteristic of Jean Mensa’s autocratic and ‘yentie obiaa’ leadership style, the EC failed to do so.
COPIES OF PROVISIONAL VOTERS REGISTER
Per regulation 22(2) of the Public Elections Regulations (Voters Registration) C.I.91 “At the end of the compilation of the provisional register as provided in sub-regulation (1), a copy of the provisional register shall be given to each registered political party in the form determined by the Commission.”
Whereas the NDC complied with the request of the EC and duly submitted a hard drive to the EC as early as 7th September 2020, it was not until Wednesday 16th September 2020 at around 8:10 pm, barely 35 hours to the commencement to the exhibition exercise that we received the provisional register for the EC. In a sudden twist of events, the EC called us the following day 17th September to return the register as they had detected some anomalies with the register for a new one. We graciously returned the register to the EC on the same day.
It was not until Friday 18th September at 8:46 pm that we finally got the register for the exhibition exercise. Take note, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the exhibition exercise commenced on Friday. This implies that we did not have the register for the exercise that day. What we political parties normally do is to receive the register in good time and print copies for all our agents to ensure that they monitor the exhibition process effectively.
We are reliably informed that the EC had already dispatched copies of the register they asked us to return to its officials across the country for the exhibition exercise. Given that it was too late to replace the Provisional Register with the current one, the EC knowingly and willfully instructed its officials to use the wrong copies of the register on the first day of the exhibition exercise.
Again, Regulation 23(3) of C.I. 91 states that “The Commission shall in addition to the publication provided in sub-regulation (1), post the provisional register on the website of the Commission”. It is important to note that our so-called competent EC is yet to fulfill this simple obligation imposed on them by the law they themselves drafted and sent to Parliament for enactment. Ladies and Gentlemen, you may check for yourselves now at www.ec.gov.gh to see if the EC has uploaded the register on the website as required by law.
Ladies and Gentlemen, even with the copies of the register the EC is using for the exhibition exercise so far, our observations show widespread anomalies at various exhibition centres across the country. So far our officials and agents have reported anomalies from all regions except Asawase in the Ashanti Region. This has already given us cause to believe that the anomalies and distortions in the register may be deliberate as it is widespread only in our strongholds. We have come to the conclusion that the current Provisional Register cannot be relied on as the Provisional Register as the level of distortion is incredible.
ADJUDICATION & DE-DUPLICATION
The EC constituted an Adjudication Committee to look into issues regarding multiple registrations during the registration exercise. Ideally, this Committee is supposed to first complete its work before the exhibition exercise. The Committee last met on 27th August and scheduled to meet again on 3rd September but that meeting never came on. The Committee was supposed to complete its work before the provisional register could be finalized. It is therefore strange that the EC has gone ahead with the exhibition exercise. This therefore raises questions as to the register that is being exhibited.
Secondly, we also have information that people outside the shores of Ghana are being flown down to be registered on 29th September, 2020. How true is this assertion and will the people be part of the Provisional Register?
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, before touching on some of the unpardonable issues that have come up so far at the various Exhibition Centres nationwide we wish to first draw your attention to something strange that happened at the EC’s district office in Ablekuma Central Constituency on Friday September 18, 2020. EC officials were caught on video late at night printing and laminating unspecified number of Voter ID Cards. Obviously, this is just one of the Modern Rigging Techniques the EC has employed going into this election. Our suspicion is that either the new ID cards were being printed for non-Ghanaians who are not legible to vote or persons who did not register at all. This confirms rumours that EC officials were still secretly registering people after the official registration exercise had ended. Once such cards are issued to people whose identities were not scrutinized, these persons will go to the exhibition centers and fill in the Inclusion Forms as if they were mistakenly taken out of the register. Obviously this is part of the grand plan between Jean Mensa and the failed NPP to subvert the sovereign will of Ghanaians on 7th December. But we are vigilant and under no circumstance shall we sit that for Jean Mensa to perpetrate such a treasonable act on Ghanaians.
We condemn this shameful act of thievery vehemently. We therefore call for an independent investigation of this incident and demand an explanation from the EC as to how any group could be permitted to print such numbers of voter ID cards when exhibition is ongoing.
We wish to use this opportunity to call on our officers and agents to ensure strict compliance with our earlier directive to compare the exhibition list with the daily print out obtained during the registration exercise and reject all new names that do not exist on the daily print outs.
Now to the charade exhibition of Jean Mensa /Bossman Asare voters register. From evidence gathered so far by our hardworking monitoring teams across the nation, the anomalies that have characterized the register can best be described as a comedy of errors that we predicted during the shambolic voter registration exercise. Never in our electoral history have we witnessed the display of such expensive incompetence by one of the most internationally revered institutions.
Key among the errors observed from the exercise include:
1. outright omission or removal of registrants through duplication
2. mismatch of Personal Identification Numbers
3. multiple instances of same photograph on different ID Cards.
Below are details of the anomalies we have been able to capture to share with you.
SAME PIN NUMBER ISSUED TO MULTIPLE APPLICANTS
Under no circumstance should any database, be it biometric or otherwise have multiple people issued with the same Personal Identification Numbers (PIN). In other words, the uniqueness of a PIN must be guaranteed at all times in any credible database. We wish to state categorically that this was NOT the case in the previous register which the EC has thrown away. It is therefore sad that after spending almost 1 Billion Ghana Cedis to compile a new register, we have ended up with a register which does not guarantee the uniqueness of the PINs which is the most fundamental principle in a database design.
Indeed, the essence of Identity Management is to register, clean up the data and issue unique PINs to every single registrant. Having duplicated and triplicated PINs is akin to a bank issuing the same account number to multiple customers. That is how serious and fundamental a PIN is. It is therefore our position that the new voters register has failed a fundamental credibility test.
Ladies and Gentlemen from the media we present to you some location specific anomalies:
1. Many exhibition centres in the districts do not have Biometric Verification Devices (BVDs). For instance out of 1078 polling stations in the whole of the Western North region, only 400 had BVDs. This means that the BVDs are not been used to verify people on the register in this exhibition exercise even though the EC budgeted for these devises and was supposed to procure them for use at every polling station.
2. There are several instances of disparities between details of printouts obtained during registration and the information on the provisional register being exhibited.
3. There were missing names, replication of names, swapping of photographs and differences in ID Numbers at virtually all centres visited. In Asunafo South Constituency in the Ahafo Region for instance, male photos on the register were used for female registrants and vice versa and names are missing from the register. Some of those successfully challenged still have their names on the register. In Asunafo North, one photograph was used for several people on the register
4. At some centres the EC’s presence was useless. For instance the exercise was halted at the Zawse primary school polling station in the Binduri Constituency when the residents realized that only 14 names were captured out of 413 registered at the centre
5. In the New Edubiase constituency there was a case where voters got to the centres to check their names and instead they were issued with new cards with new ID Numbers.
6. Many Ghanaians have described the short code (1422) announced by the EC as a scam. This is because the information returned by the system usually belonged to a different registrant.
7. In some other cases those who out of curiosity visited their exhibition centres after verifying with the short code were shocked to find out that their names were missing from the register although the system had verified them via the short code.
8. Some exhibition centres either started early or did not work on the first day of exhibition. This has a potential of putting those who trooped there on the first day off. Strangely this happened mostly in the strong holds of the NDC. For example, at Nkwanta south in the Oti Region, all polling stations but the Nkwanta township centre were unable to commence on the first day.
9. Still in the Oti Region, as at 12:30pm on the first day the EC Officials had not reported, leaving many registrants stranded. Similar incident was reported from other NDC strongholds.
10. People who were successfully challenged during the registration and whose names were expected to be deleted still had their names on the provisional register.
11. At the M/A Primary School, Mbradan Exhibition Centre, the picture of one registered voter had replaced the pictures of almost all the registered voters at that polling station.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, these are only few instances time will allow us to mention. As stated supra a more comprehensive compilation would be available to relevant stakeholders in due course. Meanwhile the EC does not seem to disappoint when it comes to miraculously targeting the NDC strongholds to inflict their “errors” on them. Isn’t it curious that most of the Exhibition Centres affected with deletions were in the Zongos? What about the fact that in the Afram Plains South, the phenomenon was more pronounced on the Islands?
SMS SHORT CODE VERIFICATION
We have also take note of the announcement by the EC on the use of a short code to confirm the existence of their names on the voters register. We note that the EC has failed to inform Ghanaians in its publicity that the use of the short code attract charges. Since the EC’s budget has already been approved. We wonder who the money will be going to since the EC is not bothered when it comes to issues of transparency.
From our observations so far, we have come to the conclusion that the use of the short code to verify the existence of their names on the register is not reliable. We therefore wish to caution our supporters and the electorate from relying on this method of confirming their details on the register. We wish to encourage everyone to find time and physically visit the exhibition centres to confirm their names to be sure that their names are on the register to accomplish the rescue mission come 7th December, 2020.
COMMENDATION TO CSOS AND WELL-MEANING GHANAIANS
We wish to use this opportunity to commend various civil society organisations and well-meaning Ghanaians who have been vigilant and critical of the electoral process so far that has helped to ensure that the EC does the right things for a credible, free and fair elections. We wish to encourage them to do more as the elections approach.
MESSAGE TO EMINENT CITIZENS
In previous elections, the nation relied on well respected eminent Ghanaians to intervene through quiet diplomacy when there were tensions. We were therefore concerned that the very people the nation will rely on as moral voices were co-opted into a so-called Eminent Advisory Committee by the Electoral Commission. We had cause to caution our eminent personalities that were invited to be part of this committee. Having been coopted as part of the EC, we have come to the conclusion that the Jean Mensa led Electoral Commission acts on the advice of the Eminent Advisory Committee and therefore the Committee endorses all their actions and inactions. With this development, we wish to ask members of the Eminent Advisory Committee whether we should hold them responsible for the mess and the chaos the EC is causing?
To the rest of our moral voices – religious leaders, statesmen and the media, there are a lot of things going wrong but unfortunately we don’t hear them comment on any of these things. There is a point in history that a country where the SILENCE of the responsible and Senior citizens in the society can no longer be golden.
But we wish to remind everyone that God is watching all of us and if by their silence this country is plunged into chaos, all of us will suffer. But it is not too late for concerned citizens to speak out and condemn acts that have the potential to undermine our democracy. Such continuous silence in the Face of such blatant disregard for common sense abuse of office and incompetence is tantamount to a betrayal of their hallowed positions in society and the entire populace.
MESSAGE TO GHANAIANS
In a democracy, governments are changed or maintained through the ballot. The outcome of free fair and credible elections is the sovereign will of the people. Therefore any act that undermines this sacred exercise and denies people their free will is tantamount to treason. All Ghanaians must therefore rise up to protect their vote and resist any act that undermines their sovereign will.
A CALL TO DUTY
We acknowledge that these are difficult times in our democratic dispensation but we should be reminded that we are also dealing with an EC that is hell bent on doing the bidding of the failed NPP government. As a result, they ignored wise counsel that the registration period was too short to compile a credible register. With this in mind, we urge all our members, supporters and sympathizers to ensure that their names are on the register for the rescue mission. They should therefore come out in their numbers to check their names in the provisional register at all the exhibition centers.
We know the exhibition exercises attract low turnout, sometimes in single digit percentage. However, we are not in normal times so we plead with all NDC sympathizers as well as all Ghanaians interested in upholding our constitution and democracy to endure all circumstances including possible long queues, potential intimidation and harsh weather in order to confirm their names on the register. This is how we would all guarantee victory on December 7, 2020 we can rescue our dear nation from this insensitive Akufo Addo’s government.