Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the NPP majority leader in parliament, has criticized the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for blocking all significant electoral reforms.
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Speaking to the Parliamentary Press Corps yesterday, the Majority Leader stated that the NDC has opposed every single system improvement, including the transition from opaque boxes to transparent boxes, from thumbprint ID cards to picture ID cards, from black and white to colored pictures, and now the introduction of biometrics. What explains this, and why? What justifies this?
His remarks come in response to the criticism raised by the Election Commission’s plan to use the Ghana Card as the exclusive form of identification for the voter register.
Recall that on Tuesday, the EC’s Chairwoman, Madam Jean Mensa Adukwei, briefed Parliament on the importance of the Constitutional Instrument the Commission wished to present to the House.
The proposal to use the Ghana Card as the exclusive form of identification for the Voter Registration was one aspect of the C.I., according to the EC Chairperson.
The EC observed that the use of the Ghana Card as the only form of identification meant that the guarantor system, which allowed a registered voter to attest to the citizenship and age of potential applicants, would no longer be used.
She stated that the NIA’s guarantor system would be depended upon since it was the organization that printed the cards. She explained that adopting the NIA’s guarantor method in place of her organization’s would prevent children and foreigners from being included on the voter list.
The Minority in Parliament and its parent party, the NDC, have rejected the EC’s proposal, claiming that should this C.I. mature into legislation, qualified voters would be at risk of losing their right to vote.
They have also threatened to resist its implementation and questioned the similarities and differences between the NIA and the EC guarantor systems.
But Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu outlined the distinctions between the two guarantor systems during yesterday’s news conference.
He pointed out that in order to work for the NIA, one had to take an oath before a Commissioner of Oaths, and the consequences for giving false information were severe enough that, if after ten years, it was discovered that a guarantor had lied, that person could face jail time and lose their right to vote.
The Majority Leader claimed that the EC’s system was a little sloppy, which made it easier for all kinds of false information to spread.
“The EC system is somewhat slack. You know, somebody will claim, “Well, I know this individual; we reside in the same home; I can swear that he is a Ghanaian.” However this one is stringent (NIA guarantor system). People are terrified because you swear an oath and go to jail if you break it, he added, and he questioned why the NDC consistently fought positive change.
The Suame Legislator claimed that no Ghanaian had ever been denied the right to vote in a vote when they were eligible to do so.
According to him, registration ends sixty days before the elections, so anyone who turns 18 within two months of the elections will lose their right to vote, despite the Constitution’s provisions that “Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.”
He urged the NDC to refrain from interpreting the law’s terms in their own unique way.