The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has said its persistent call for a new voter register has been vindicated by the Electoral Commission’s recent assertion that the voter roll would have been bloated by three million people had it not compiled a new register.
At a press conference on Monday, 10 August 2020, the General Secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, said: “We, in the NPP, as you will recall, have been consistent in stressing that the old voter register was defective and not fit for purpose. One of the issues we had with the old register was that, it was bloated. Indeed, the numbers from the current register vindicate that position”.
Addressing the media in Accra on Friday, 7 August 2020, Deputy EC Chair Dr Eric Bossman Asare said: “The Commission’s main objective of compiling the new voter register was to ensure a credible and a clean voter register, which would stand the test of time”.
So far, he said, “the numbers the Commission has been able to register is a testament to our mandate as an election management body (EMB) that seeks to undertake processes that ensure we deliver elections that are free, fair, and meet international standards”, pointing out: “A clean voter register is the basic foundation for ensuring that clean, credible, and transparent elections are delivered to the people of Ghana”.
Crunching the numbers to buttress his point, he said the 2019 register had a total of 16,845, 420 voters.
“Apart from this, we also had 797,493 people quarantined on the Duplicates/Multiples and Exceptions lists. The political parties are aware of this. When this is added to the registered voters, the overall total is a little over 17.6 million.
“Had the Commission maintained the old register and conducted a limited registration exercise in all electoral areas and registration centres, across the country, we would have estimated to conservatively add about 2 million Ghanaians on to the existing register.
“Potentially, without the compilation of a new voter register, the Commission was on track to register some 19 million people plus another 800,000 people, who remain on the multiple and exceptions lists, who previously were denied the right to vote. “This would have given us a total number of almost 19.6 million persons, approximately 20 million, had we maintained the old register and conducted the Limited Registration Exercise as compared to the current figure of 16.63 million, some 3 million difference.
“With the compilation of this register those on the duplicates/exceptions lists from 2012 have had the opportunity to register”, Dr Bossman said.
In conclusion, he said the “Commission’s objective of ensuring a credible register is on track”.
“With an estimated population of 31 million, many experts will agree that a voter population between 50 to 55% of the total population for a country in sub-Saharan Africa is acceptable. At the current rate, and after the registration is completed and the register is certified taking into consideration the de-duplication process, we may have around 53% of the population in the register
“According to the Ghana Statistical Service’s estimates, Ghanaians who are at least 18 years are 17,624,686, which is approximately 57% of the estimated population of almost 31million.
“This means the numbers we are on track to register are well be within the threshold of those who qualify to vote.
“In the next few days when the entire process to certify the register is completed, the total number of registered voters will be announced to the general public.
“As a Commission, we are pleased with what we have been able to do so far, and we are looking forward to the cooperation of all stakeholders for the success of our 2020 activities”, he noted.
On the back of that, the NPP General Secretary said the EC has vindicated the party’s long-held position.
“Until recently, the EC had always disagreed with us on our position that the register is bloated. Indeed, after we mounted pressure, the EC, under the then-Chairperson, Madam Charlotte Osei, empanelled the late Justice VCRAC Crabbe and others, in October 2015 to hear proposals, collect and collate views from the stakeholders, analyze the views and make recommendations to the Commission.
“In their report, the Crabbe Panel vindicated NPP’s position that the register was bloated. The panel established that the old register contained several categories of ineligible registrants including multiple registrations, names of minors, names of foreigners and deceased persons.
He said: “After its analysis of facts before it, the Crabbe Committee stated in page 10 of their Report, that: ‘There is evidence that the register of voters contains a substantial number of people whose names are currently not valid. By all indications, the number of registered voters is not only unusually high, but it may be in excess of the potential number. Based on the 2012 projected population of Ghana, provided by the Ghana Statistical Service, and discounting the population of foreigners, there were about 150,000 more individual records in the Register of voters than the 2012 estimated population of persons aged 18 years and older of Ghanaian nationality. This would include some thousands of minors who were wrongly registered’.
On the issue of dead people in the register, the party quoted the Committee as having observed on page 14 that: ‘Further analysis of data, based on the reported number registered in 2012 and 2014, shows that as many as 580,000 estimated number of voter deaths would have occurred cumulatively by the 2016 elections and may well remain in the Register of Voters. It is not clear how many of these deaths have actually been identified and their records expunged from the Register through the established procedure. This constitutes about 4% of the eligible voters on the register. This margin is almost twice the margin by which most presidential elections were won and more than ten times the margin in the preceding elections’”.
Further, Mr Boadu said as a way of tackling these issues, the Crabbe Committee, on page 20 of their report, first of all, observed that: ‘It may be difficult to justify more than half a million invalid records in the Register that we seek to characterise as credible. It may be expedient to try to find a middle ground to create a new register through a completely new registration process. The electoral commission could consider extending the exhibition exercise to have voters confirm their names on the list, an indication that they would want to maintain their voter status. The benefits include signalling that the EC is doing something about the known flaws in the Register’”.
In effect, he said, “the point the NPP is making here today is that the fact that the old register is bloated cannot be disputed. Eventually, the E.C itself decided to compile a new register. As we have stated already, the numbers that have come out of the new register confirms the link held position that the old register was bloated.”
It quoted the EC’s latest figures to buttress its point further.
“In its Meet the Citizen briefing on the 6th August 2020, the EC told us that: ‘A clean voter register is the basic foundation for ensuring that clean, credible, and transparent elections are delivered to the people of Ghana. The 2019 Register had a total of 16,845,420 Voters. Apart from this, we also had 797,493 people quarantined on the Duplicates/Multiples and Exceptions lists. The political parties are aware of this. When this is added to the registered Voters, the overall total is a little over 17.6million. Had the Commission maintained the old register and conducted a Limited Registration Exercise in all Electoral Areas and Registration Centers across the country, we would have estimated to conservatively add about 2million Ghanaians on to the existing Register. Potentially, without the compilation of a new Voters Register, the Commission was on track to register some 19million people plus another 800,000 people who remain on the multiple and exceptions lists who previously were denied the right to vote. This would have given us a total number of almost 19.6 million persons, approximately 20 million, had we maintained the old register and conducted the Limited Registration Exercise as compared to the current figure of 16.63 million, some 3 million difference. With the compilation of this register, those on the duplicates/exceptions lists from 2012 have had the opportunity to register’”.
According to the party’s view, “in a country where the outcome of general elections have sometimes been determined by less than 50, 000 votes, 3 million illegal registration entries or votes make a significant impact on the integrity and credibility of elections. Indeed, the VCRAC Crabbe panel made this point as well”.
“Even so, the E.C has also argued, that the decision to compile a new register in 2020 was largely driven by technical and financial considerations. The E.C says it received advice from its IT team and external Consultants to the effect that, it would be prudent to acquire a new system rather than refurbish the current system which had become obsolete and thus unfit for purpose.
“Indeed, according to a letter from the vendors of the defunct system, the EC, would be at great risk if it did not take steps to change the equipment. In the letter, the vendors stated in part, that:
We would like to announce that the items in the present BVRs are End-of-Life, including laptops. This means that no components are available to repair the items. And, so, for purposes of availability, maintainability and compatibility in the future, we recommend purchasing new BVRs.
“Equally, the old Biometric Verification Device (BVD) was unable to verify a number of voters electronically resulting in a high number of manual verifications on voting day, which is largely unreliable and a potential source of dispute as it tends to compromise the integrity of the elections. It also does not have facial recognition technology nor does it allow for a facial recognition add-on. The new Biometric
“Voter Management Solution which the EC has acquired ahead of the 2020 elections has facial recognition as an additional feature for those whose fingers cannot be verified. This will, therefore, reduce the high incidence of manual verification which often proves to be problematic and tends to compromise the integrity and credibility of our elections”, Mr Boadu noted.