The Supreme Court will today, Thursday, June 4, 2020 hear the case in which the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is challenging the decision by the Electoral Commission to compile a new voters’ register.
According to the NDC, the EC lacks the power to go ahead with its plans because it can only “compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law. Accordingly, EC can only revise the existing register of voters, and lacks the power to prepare a fresh register of voters, for the conduct of the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.”
The NDC is also asking the court to declare as unlawful the EC’s decision to bar the use of the old voter ID cards for identification in the compilation of the new register.
It said the action is baseless and in breach of the Constitution.
The party wants a “declaration that the EC, in purporting to exercise its powers pursuant to article 51 of the 1992 Constitution to exclude the existing voter identification cards from the documents required as proof of identification to enable a person register as a voter without any justification is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.”
“Upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, specifically, Article 42, the EC’s purported amendment of Regulation 1 sub-regulation 3 of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (C.I 91) through the Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020 to exclude existing voter identification cards as proof of identification to enable a person apply for registration as a voter” according to the NDC is “unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
The National Democratic Congress (NDC), in March 2020 dragged the Electoral Commission to the Supreme Court over the compilation of the new voters’ register.
New voters’ register brouhaha
The Electoral Commission’s decision to compile a new voters’ register has been met with mixed reactions from the political front.
Whereas the NDC and some opposition parties including the PNC are against the decision, the NPP and 12 other political parties have backed the move.Regardless of the resistance, the EC has decided to proceed with the exercise but subsequently, put it on hold following the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The EC says it will observe the necessary safety protocols if the time comes for the registration exercise to commence and it intends to do this late in June.
Meanwhile, the Commission conducted a two-day nationwide pilot of the voter registration exercise which it has so far been described as successful.