Monday, 03 August

Go ahead with new voter roll compilation – SC to EC; both parties claim victory

Chief Justice Anin Yeboah

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Electoral Commission should go ahead and compile a new register of voters.

The seven-member panel of justices presided over by Chief Justice Anin Yeboah gave the ruling on Thursday, 25 June 2020.

The others include Justices Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe Bonnie, Sule Gbagegbe, Samuel K. Marful-Sau, Nene Amegatcher, and Professor Ashie Kotey.

However, the parties involved in the case, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and private citizen Mark Takyi-Banson on the one hand, and the election management body on the other, are both claiming victory as far as their positions on whether or not the old voter ID card should be used for the compilation, is concerned.

The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, told journalists after the verdict that Supreme Court ruled in the party’s favour while Deputy Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame also said the EC’s position was upheld.

Journalists in the court also said they were left confused by the Supreme Court ruling as far as the old voter ID card issue is concerned.

The lawyers of both parties, according to reporters, were seeking clarification from the justices.

Mr Takyi-Banson sued the EC for excluding the current voter ID card from the upcoming registration exercise.

Parliament recently passed the Public Election (Amendment) Regulation, 2020 (C.I. 126) to amend C.I.91 making the passport and Ghana card as the only breeder documents that can be used to register as a voter.

Mr Takyi-Banson prayed the court to grant an order directing that C.I.126 violates the provisions of article 42 and 45 of the 1992 Constitution to the extent that it excludes Birth Certificates issued to Ghanaians as a mode of identification and establishing qualification to be registered in the register of voters.

The plaintiff also sought a similar relief for the voter ID card as well as a declaration that the Electoral Commission’s decision to compile a new register of voters is “inconsistent with and a violation of article 45(a) of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana.”

Mr Takyi-Banson’s case was consolidated with that of the NDC, which had earlier dragged the EC to the apex court over the same issue.

Meanwhile, the flag bearer of the NDC, former President John Mahama, has asked all Ghanaians to go out and register when the EC begins its voter compilation exercise by the end of June.

Speaking to some community folk at Tongor in the South Dayi area of the Volta Region, Mr Mahama urged the chiefs and traditional leaders of the area to encourage their subjects to take part in the registration exercise so that they can vote in the 7 December 2020 polls.

“I want to remind all our citizens that this year is an election year. The Electoral Commission has decided that it wants to conduct a registration exercise. We had disagreements with the Electoral Commission on what register to use and the matter has been at the Supreme Court and we are waiting for the Supreme Court for its verdict”, Mr Mahama said.

“Whatever verdict the Supreme Court gives, we are ready to be law-abiding citizens, so, we shall respect the verdict of the court”, he noted.

“But whatever the verdict is, there is going to be a registration exercise whether a limited registration, new registration exercise, or validation of an existing register”, he observed. 

“Whichever registration it is, I will like to plead with Togbui to beat the gong gong to all our people to come out and register so that in December, they can register and exercise their votes”, he implored.

In a Facebook Live session on Thursday, 18 June 2020 in which Mr Mahama spoke on the NDC v. EC case, he said: “Our party has been the vanguard of a fight to prevent the disenfranchisement of a wide swathe of the citizens of this country”.

“We recognise that our opponents are determined to suppress votes in areas of the country they deem not to be their strongholds, otherwise it is difficult to understand some of the restrictions being put in the way of a wider enfranchisement of all eligible Ghanaian voters”, he noted.

He added: “We await the verdict of the Supreme Court and it is our hope that whatever verdict is given would be in the national interest to promote the wider participation of our citizens in our democratic process rather than a restriction to an elite few”.