18 June 2019

Ghana: Limited Voters' Registration Exercise Takes Off

The Electoral Commission (EC)'s limited voters' registration exercise yesterday took off on a rough note as unstable internet connection and computer breakdowns became a hindrance to the smooth take-off of the exercise.

As a result of the internet interruptions, registration officers at the centres the Ghanaian Times visited had to switch from online to offline mode in order to register the huge numbers that had turned up to have their names captured onto the voters' roll.

Some of the centres the Ghanaian Times visited included the Okaikwei, Ablekuma and Krowor electoral districts where the governing New Patriotic Party and the opposition National Democratic Congress were the only political parties to have deployed their members to monitor the exercise.

At the time of the Ghanaian Times' visit, there were long queues at the centres as a gamut of people from far and near thronged the centres to register.

At the Okaikwei registration centre near the Kaneshie Market for instance, some registrants from the three constituencies under the district, namely;Okaikwei Central, South and North, had to come from as far as Achimota, Kisseiman, and Christian Village among others to converge at the Kaneshie office of the Commission to have their names captured.

At the Ablekuma centre which caters for voters in the Ablekuma West, South, Central and North constituencies, of the six machines deployed to the centre, only four; operating offline, were functional at the time this paper visited the centre.

The story was not different at the Krowor District office, Nungua, where prospective voters in the Krowor and Ledzokuku constituencies had to endure the slow pace of the process in order to be registered.

As at 3:10 pm, only 187 people had registered across the four constituencies in the Ablekuma area, with hundreds more in four different queues waiting to be registered.

Mr Emmanuel Paemkah Jnr, the Ablekuma District Registration Supervisor, told the Ghanaian Times that "many people have even gone back home."

According to him, the internet connection started fluctuating less than two hours into the exercise forcing his men to switch to manual mode as has been anticipated by the Commission.

Admitting that the internet unreliability was affecting a smooth exercise, Mr Paemkah Jnr said his outfit was doing all what it could to register as many people despite the blip.

The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma Central, Ebenezer Nii Narh Nartey, who was monitoring the exercise, said the huge turnout was as a result of high expectations of registrants.

He urged the EC to deploy more machines to areas with high voter concentration so as to avoid the long queues that had characterised the centres and commended the party agents for cooperating to good effect for an incident-free exercise.

From Tamale Yakubu Abdul-Majeed reports that the limited voters' registration exercise which commenced yesterday Monday came to a halt at the Tamale Metropolitan office of the EC as the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) registration agents refused to allow the EC officials to register the first time voters offline.

The refusal of the party agents to allow the offline registration had frustrated the more than 100 people who had gone there to register.

However some of the frustrated people also supported the stands of the party agents and appealed to the EC officials to fix the network challenge in order to register them.

"No network, no registration exercise here," this was the stance of the agents of the two parties at the Tamale metropolitan office.

According to the parties the EC was very emphatic that the limited registration was going to be done online and therefore could not understand why the offline registration now.

When the Ghanaian Times visited the Tamale Metropolitan office of the EC at about 12:25 pm only 10 people had registered.

The EC official who gave his name as only Musah refused to talk to the Ghanaian Times with the excuse that he was not mandated to speak on the issue and the media could contact his superiors.

However, he confirmed that the limited voter registration exercise had actual halted as the party agents protested against the offline registration.

Mr Abdul-Hamid Tofik, NDC agent in an interview with the Ghanaian Times stated that the party would never be part to offline registration.

"The NDC party would never agree to any offline registration exercise in the metropolis," he insisted.

Mr Tofik maintained that it was ready to support to ensure smooth registration exercise but stressed that they would not do any offline registration.

He wondered why the EC would resort to offline registration exercise when everything was going to be done online and that the party would not support offline registration.

Tofik pointed out that the offline registration exercise would not support the cause of the party and therefore they would not allow it.

"If the system is not on, surely we would have to wait for the system to be fixed before we can continue the exercise," he added.

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