Prime News Ghana

EC halts limited voter registration due to court case

By Mutala Yakubu
EC boss Jean Mensa
EC boss Jean Mensa

The Electoral Commission (EC) has suspended its limited voter registration exercise until a court case against the process is determined.


The EC in a statement explained why the upcoming voter registration exercise has been put on hold.

“The Electoral Commission wishes to announce for the information of the general public that in view of a pending injunction seeking to restrain the Commission from holding the limited voter registration exercise slated for the 7th of June to the 27th of June 2019, the upcoming registration exercise has been put on hold until further notice”,

“The Commission will announce a new date shortly”, the statement added, saying: “Any inconvenience is deeply regretted”.

Background

Umar Ayuba, a Ghanaian citizen resident at Daboya in the Savannah Region who sued the EC says the entity is attempting to suppress Ghanaian voters through the limited voter registration exercise.

Mr Ayuba had challenged the EC’s decision to do the registration at it district offices, arguing that it was unconstitutional and without legal basis.

The plaintiff argued in the suit dated 23 May 2019 that historically, the EC has always conducted voter registrations, including limited voter registration exercises, at electoral areas in the various constituencies and districts of the country but doing so at district offices will disenfranchise a large chunk of the voter population.

According to the plaintiff, the practice of registration at electoral areas is now law per the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (CI 91).

He said the historical records show that this approach has the advantage of bringing the voter registration exercise closer to eligible persons who are desirous to register.

He explained that for eligible citizens residing in remote rural constituencies of the country, the registration at the level of the electoral area minimises the cost of travel to and from district capitals which, in most cases, are located far from rural dwellings.

“In the particular case of the Daboya-Mankarigu Constituency, a first-time voter residing in Bombo, a rural community in the Constituency, needs to travel 94 km to the district capital, Daboya, in order to be able to register,” he added.

 

The plaintiff is, therefore, seeking a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 45(a), 45(e) and 42 of the Constitution, the decision of the “2nd Defendant (EC) to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the district offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas, will result in voter suppression as is evident from the same exercise carried out in 2018, particularly in rural constituencies of the country, and is, thus, unconstitutional as it violates the rights of first-time voters to register and vote”.

Other reliefs being sought by the plaintiff are:

-A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of article 45(a) and (e) of the Constitution, the decision of the 2nd Defendant to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the District Offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas is inconsistent with and in contravention of the mandate of the 2nd Defendant as contained in article 45(a) and (e) of the Constitution and Regulation 2 Sub-regulation (2)(a) and (b) of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (CI 91);

-A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 42, 45(a), 45(e) and 17 of the Constitution, the decision of the 2nd Defendant to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the District Offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas places an unwarranted and disproportionate burden on first-time voters, especially in rural constituencies such as Daboya-Mankarigu. The decision is thus discriminatory and a violation of the right of first-time rural voters to be granted equal opportunity to register to vote under articles 42 and 17 of the Constitution;

-A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 45(a), 45(e), 17, 23 and 296 of the Constitution, the decision of the 2nd Defendant to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the District Offices of the 2nd Defendant instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas is an unreasonable and arbitrary exercise of its discretionary power in relation to voter registration;

-An order of this Honourable Court directed at the 2nd Defendant to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration exercise in the manner prescribed by law, specifically the Public Elections (Voter Registration) Regulations, 2016 (CI 91), in order to avoid altogether or minimize the suppression of votes particularly in the rural constituencies of the country;

-An order of this Honourable Court directed at the 2nd Defendant, its employees, servants and agents to desist from destroying any and all documents and records relating to the 2018 limited voter registration exercise conducted by the 2nd Defendant until the final determination of this suit; and

-Any further order or orders as to this Honourable Court shall seem fit in the circumstances.

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