All 33,367 polling stations across the country will be covered in the mass voters registration exercise, the Electoral Commission (EC) has assured.
The EC said the exercise, scheduled to begin on June 30, 2020, would be undertaken using the cluster system in five phases.
Five polling stations will form a cluster.
The Deputy Commissioner in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Bossman Eric Asare, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the EC had procured 8,000 biometric voter registration kits, including backups, to cover the 33,367 polling stations across the country during the exercise.
He urged Ghanaians to disabuse their minds of the notion that the cluster system meant that the number of polling stations would be reduced.
The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, yesterday held a three-hour closed-door meeting with the Special Budget Committee of Parliament.
The EC briefed the committee on the roadmap for the conduct of the 2020 general election.
Shortly after, the Minority in Parliament, at a press conference, expressed strong reservation about the decision by the EC to phase out 6,300 registration centres out of the 33,367 gazetted centres across the country.
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, who addressed the media, said the move would not make available to many Ghanaians the legitimate and guaranteed rights they were entitled to under Article 42 of the Constitution to exercise their franchise.
Besides, he said it would reduce voter registration centres, making it “a recipe for a grave threat to the sustenance of competitive multi-party constitutional democracy in Ghana.”
In a quick reaction, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, described the criticism by the Minority as an attempt to “throw dust into the eyes of the public.”
He said the EC informed the committee that it was procuring about 8,000 biometric registration devices for the registration exercise and that the 33,367 polling centres across the country would be clustered for the registration exercise.
“So the EC is not phasing out any polling station; they are clustering them to do the registration. They are going to do so in four turns and after six days in each cluster, they are going to move to another cluster till they cover the entirety of the polling stations that we have,” he said.
Dr Asare explained further that after the successful pilot of the voters registration exercise at its regional offices, the EC was convinced that the cluster system would be critical for a successful national registration exercise.
He said a national pilot registration exercise would also be organised in Accra on Thursday and invited interested parties to visit the Ridge Church premises to witness the exercise.
Shedding light on the system, Dr Asare said the registration team would spend six days at each cluster of five polling stations.
He said the EC would deploy 6,700 kits at each phase of the registration exercise, with each district having a back-up stock of kits.
He said each district would also have a mobile team to swiftly move to registration centres with long queues or a large number of people.
According to him, the EC had also set up district review committees to meet on a daily basis to review the challenges that might come up so that they would be resolved expeditiously.
“We will not wait for the end of the exercise to review the registration challenges. We’ll deal with it on a daily basis,” Dr Asare stated.
Giving his version of what transpired at the meeting, Mr Iddrisu said having listened to the EC Chairperson, he felt profoundly troubled for the future of Ghana’s democracy.
“I feel disappointed that in her answers to questions at the committee level, she made two significant worrying statements that Ghanaians must know,” he said.
He stated that what was even more worrying was the fact that the EC chairperson did not seem to understand the essence of what he described as “data synchronisation and data harmonisation.”
“In her answer to a simple question, she stated that the EC did not intend to use the data of the National Identification Authority. So what will the EC be doing with the NIA identity card?” he asked.
The Tamale South legislator added that during the briefing, the EC chairperson said the commission had now procured personal protective equipment (PPE) for the registration exercise.
“They have no appropriation and they did not get appropriation for it. They are talking about the region of $1.5 million PPE, and the Minority has requested details of such procurement,” he said.
“What is even more worrying is that they say they have procured a biometric voter management system, a biometric voter registration system and biometric voter verification system. They should make them available for inspection and our committee should take interest in the coming days to inspect them,” he said.
The EC, on June 2, this year, began a nationwide training exercise for 42,025 registration officials to equip them with the requisite skills and knowledge desired for the exercise.
The training exercise is expected to be completed by next week, in readiness for the commencement of the mass voter registration on June 30, 2020.
It also conducted a two-day pilot registration exercise at all its regional offices on June 2 and 3, this year to test the Biometric Voters Registration kits, assess the protocols put in place, among other things.
The EC had originally fixed April 18, this year to begin the mass voters registration exercise but that had to be postponed due to the ban on social gatherings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.