On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Jean Adukwei Mensah (Mrs) presented to Parliament a new Constitutional Instrument (CI) 126. CIs are usually made to address specific administrative or procedural issues and are subject to parliamentary scrutiny. The proposed reforms of CI 126 by the Electoral Commission of Ghana include the use of the Ghana Card as the only document for the registration of new voters. This means that other forms of identification, such as passports, driving licenses, and the guarantor system will no longer be accepted as valid forms of identification for voter registration.
The purpose of this reform is to ensure that voter registration is more efficient and accurate. The use of the Ghana Card is expected to reduce the incidence of multiple registrations, impersonation, and other forms of electoral fraud. The reform is also expected to make it easier for eligible voters to register and participate in the electoral process.
Nevertheless, the proposed reforms of CI 126 have generated mixed reactions from various stakeholders in Ghana. While some have welcomed the reforms as a step in the right direction towards enhancing the integrity of the electoral process, others have raised concerns about the potential exclusion of eligible voters who do not possess the Ghana Card. It is important to note that the minority in Parliament's concerns about the backlog of Ghanaians who are yet to be issued the Ghana Card are legitimate and must be addressed by the National Identification Authority (NIA).
The recent announcement by the NIA that it is ready to print more Ghana cards is a positive development. The settlement of the GH¢100 million debt owed to its creditors by the government will give the NIA the financial backing it needs to complete its mandate of issuing Ghana cards to all eligible citizens. If the NIA can deliver on its promise to print and distribute more Ghana cards in time for the voter registration, it will go a long way in ensuring that every eligible citizen can participate in the electoral process. This will be a significant step in strengthening Ghana's democratic credentials and ensuring that the voice of every citizen is heard.
On that score, CDS Africa agrees with the proposed reforms of CI 126 by the Electoral Commission of Ghana, particularly the adoption of the Ghana Card as the only document for registering new voters. We consider these reforms to be strong and forward-looking, and we anticipate that they will enhance Ghana's democratic reputation.
However, it is important all sides of the house carefully consider the contents of the CI and engage in constructive dialogue to ensure that any concerns are addressed before it is enacted into law. The democratic process in Ghana is built on transparency, accountability, and dialogue, and these principles must be upheld in the legislative process. We would therefore urge parliament to engage in a fruitful debate to ensure the provisions in the CI are fine-tuned with the greatest interest of the nation at heart and towards a more transparent voters register that will stand the test of time.
CDS Africa would urge the government to provide adequate funding to the Electoral Commission and the National Identification Authority (NIA) to facilitate the resolution of the pending applications for Ghana Cards. Furthermore, should these reforms be passed by parliament we implore the authorities to expedite the registration and issuance of Ghana Cards for all citizens and take measures to prevent any form of voter disenfranchisement.
At the same time, CDS Africa would strongly encourage the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to partner with the Electoral Commission to promote awareness of the reforms through civic education and prevent the spread of misinformation among the public. We believe that such collaboration will promote transparency and ensure that citizens are adequately informed about the proposed changes should it be passed by Parliament.
The Electoral Commission has showcased its ability to fulfil its responsibilities by registering over 17 million voters in just 38 days during the COVID-19 pandemic. CDS Africa encourages the Electoral Commission to maintain its excellent efforts in promoting transparent and equitable elections in Ghana.
God bless our homeland Ghana and make her great and strong.