Member of Parliament for Builsa South has slammed the Electoral Commission Commissioner, Mrs. Jean Mensa, for making a sloppy and lame attempt to justify why they have restricted the limited registration exercise to their district offices.
Dr. Clement Apaak says many independent thinkers and not just members of the NDC have advised the EC to expand the registration exercise so more eligible voters will have the opportunity to register in their electoral areas.
The lawmaker said that independent election observers have all advised the EC to expand the exercise since the current approach being used is only working against the very institution that she heads today, and her attempt to justify what she said a few years ago, which many of us believed to hold even today, that the dynamics are different, will clearly not wash.
He explained that the right to vote as captured in Article 41 of the constitution is very clear and specific and that it does not only say that people who are 18 years of age and older and have a sound mind can vote in any election, but that it is an entitlement, and what that means is that the person who is to benefit from this right must not be prevented or placed in a way that will make it difficult for them to access that right.
‘It is not for Jean Mensa to determine whether this year is an election year or not, and of the about 1.3 million, only half of them will be able to register this time or not. Her responsibility is to make sure that every single citizen who meets the minimum threshold or requirement is able to register at his or her convenience in a way that will not discourage him or her from registering and taking advantage of this fundamental right.’
We lack the Capacity to expand – EC
The Electoral Commission claims it lacks the capacity to expand the registration process to electoral areas, as some opposition political parties have urged.
At a press conference on Monday, September 18, 2023, Commissioner Mrs. Jean Mensa told journalists that the EC had not budgeted for the restricted registration effort to be undertaken in electoral areas.
According to her, it is not in our interest to disenfranchise eligible voters, but it is in their interest to register them all.
However, our present circumstances make it impossible for us to conduct the ongoing registration on an electoral area basis.
She said that the EC plans to hold continuous registration in the district offices as well as mop-up exercises in hard-to-reach areas before the 2024 elections.
“It is important to note that this will not be the only registration exercise we will have before the 2024 elections.”
Dr. Apaak criticized the EC’s explanation, stating that many constituents are struggling to access the district office to register, using his constituency as an example.
The speaker expressed concern about communities where residents must travel 35 kilometres to access district offices, and how political parties have taken on the responsibility of assisting.
He stressed that the right to vote is not conteminous to a political party, and expecting representatives of that party to be the MPs or not to mobilise, organise, and finance the prospective beneficiaries of that right to access that right But even so, given the current condition, we are doing that.
‘It is not in the place of Jean Mensa to tell Ghanaians when and how we should participate in a right that is bestowed on us. Her role is to ensure that persons who meet the requirements have access to register. She doesn’t decide when we should do it or not.’