Use of Ghana Card will sanitise voters’ register

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Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu — Majority Leader

The Majority Caucus in Parliament has thrown its weight behind the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to use the Ghana Card as the sole identification document for continuous voter registration to ensure electoral integrity.

It said the use of the Ghana Card would help to sanitise the voters’ register and make it more robust, devoid of any leakages or fraud that could undermine polls.

Describing the National Identification Authority (NIA) system of issuance cards as being more robust than that of the EC, the caucus cited how in the compilation of its register the NIA discovered that 95,942 people attempted multiple registration for cards.

“For the EC voters’ register, it turned out that about 44,000 people who tendered their voters’ ID cards to register had the numbers on their cards being the same. This means that the system that the EC operates has some leakages,” he said.

Curbing fraud

Addressing a press conference on the use of the Ghana Card by the EC for the continuous voters’ register, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said: “Today, people who used passports to register with the NIA, over 11,000 people have been found out to have used passports that bear the same numbers.”

“This means there is fraud in the system and this is a system that today has come to sanitise our system for us,” he said.

Credibility

The Majority Leader noted that many institutions had recognised the integrity of the NIA database due to its robustness and had resorted to the use of the Ghana Card.

He mentioned some of the institutions as the Bank of Ghana, 24 commercial banks, 146 rural and community banks, 16 savings and loans schemes, 16 financial technology companies (Fintechs), five finance houses, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

The others, he said, were the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), the Ghana Immigration Service, the telecommunication companies (telcos), the Students Loan Trust, the Passport Office, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority and the EC.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu indicated that the process of improving the voter register should be understood by all Ghanaians.

Hiving off previous instruments

The Majority Leader said the removal of other previous instruments of identification such as birth certificates, passports and health insurance cards did not restrain any Ghanaian’s right to register and vote in past elections.

“There are many more Ghanaians with baptismal certificates than there are with passports; there are many more Ghanaians with health insurance cards than there are with passports.

“So, if the EC wants to use the Ghana Card, what is wrong with this,” he said.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu recalled how former President John Dramani Mahama expressed happiness about the integrity of the Ghana Card system when he was registered and issued with the card not long ago.

“Today, your people are shying away from it and saying we cannot use it,” he said.

“The EC has hived off the baptismal certificate, the birth certificate, the health insurance card and the passport and why are they not saying that these instruments should be brought back and the concentration is on the vouching system,” he said.

Difference in systems

Dwelling on the decision to do away with the guarantor system, the MP for Suame argued that there was “a material difference” between the vouching system undertaken by the NIA and that of the EC.

For the NIA, he said, an applicant of Ghana Card would have to swear an oath before Commissioners of Oath that had dire consequences for those who breached the procedure.

“The sanction is spelt out such that even after 10 years, you are found out to have lied, you go to prison and you will be disenfranchised internally and so people are afraid.

“But the EC’s vouching system is a bit loose as one person can swear by themselves and vouch for so many people,” he said.

Why no Ghana Cards in past elections?

The Majority Leader said the EC, upon coming into force of the National Identity Register Regulation, 2012 (L.I. 2111), was required to conform to section 1 (j) of the enactment.

However, he said, the then Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan-led commission resorted not to the use of Ghana Card for the 2012 elections.

According to Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu the EC at the time did not use the Ghana Card because of the small quantity of cards issued in the lead-up to the 2012 elections.

“At the time, less than 10,000 Ghanaians across the country had been issued with voting cards against a voting population target of 12 million,” he said.

 

 

Graphic Online


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