CODEO unhappy with abuse of guarantor system in voter registration exercise

A fundamental challenge in the compilation of the new voters’ register is the widespread abuse of the guarantor system; the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has observed.

As the Election Commission (EC) prepares to wrap up on the exercise on Thursday, August 6, 2020, CODEO says the lack of due diligence in the application of that protocol threatens the legality of the guarantor system.

Aside from the National Identification Card (Ghana Card) or the Ghana passport being acceptable documents for registering onto the voters’ register, two persons who have already been captured on the new register can vouch for others to register.

CODEO which has deployed 100 observers for the mass registration says, it is appalled by the level of abuse of this particular arrangement.

Project Manager at CODEO, Rhoda Osei Afful, who spoke on Eyewitness News said, despite some other successes chalked in the exercise, the indiscriminate use of guarantors remains a major setback.

“One of the issues that we found was the abuse of the processes.  First is the abuse of the voucher or guarantor system. The EC requires that people come to the registration centre with either a Ghana card or Passport. In the absence of these two documents, people must come with two people who have already registered to guarantee for them. The expectation is that the people who are vouching for others should know such people because by vouching, they consent that one is a Ghanaian who is eligible to register. So this is the expectation that people are supposed to have to guarantee for others”.

In expressing shock, Rhoda Osei Afful continued by saying that silence of political parties and their agents makes the situation even more worrying.

“We noticed that, in some instances, people were just guaranteeing for people that they didn’t know from anywhere. In some instances, it was as serious that the forms had already been filled.  This is not acceptable because it is a violation of the law. It makes it possible for people who are not eligible to be registered, simply because someone has made his or her services available. We also noted that the political parties and their agents were also comfortable with this situation. They are interested in making sure that as many people they suspect to be comfortable with their interest are registered. This was one thing we were not quite enthused about.”

A few days ago, the electoral management body disclosed that it had begun prosecuting persons who guaranteed for non-eligible persons.

It cautioned Ghanaians to be wary of persons they guarantee for and ensure that they only guarantee for persons they personally know.

Despite the challenges of ineligible registrants trying to get their names unto the register, the EC believes the registration exercise has so far been successful.

As at Monday, August 3, 2020, about 15,108,687 applicants had successfully registered making the EC exceed its target of registering 15 million citizens at the end of the exercise.

Before this new registration exercise, there was a total of 16,845,439 voters on the register.

The exercise is expected to end on Thursday, August 6, 2020.

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