Former Chief Director of Electoral Commission (EC), Mr. Kwame Damoah Agyemang explained that it would be extremely difficult for the Commission to remove minors from the electoral roll as it is not in the biometric device capacity to identify minors.
Agyemang said this in responds to the direct order from the Supreme Court of Ghana , for the country’s electoral commission to clean up the voter list to be used in this year’s presidential, legislative and local elections.
According to him, age of a registered voter can not be determined through photos of the person and those who registered with the National Health Insurance (NHIS) cards in 2012 during the biometric registration exercise were persons who had turned 18 years old.
Speaking in an intervies with Kwame Tutu on Frontline on Rainbow Radio, Agyemang noted that although the ruling by the Supreme Court ordering the Commission to clean the register is in order, deleting the names of minors will be extremely difficult.
The Supreme Court ruling which also ordered the EC to delete names of minors and ghost names from the electoral role, based its ruling on a case brought before it by Abu Ramadan, former youth organiser of the People’s National Convention (PNC) and Evans Nimako, a farmer challenging the credibility of the register.
The two insisted that the voters’ register in its current state is not fit to be used for the November election hence appealing the court to declare it as null and void.
Mr. Agyemang said it will be much easier for the EC to delete the names of persons who registered with NHIS cards, than to determine minors by just looking at their faces on photo. He added that the current biometric data system has all the details of all the persons who registered with the cards.
“Fortunately we are in the computer age. The 2012 biometric registration is computer based. The data of all those who registered with the NHIS cards is captured on the system and with a simple command, the system will print all the names of such persons.”
Agyemang argued that the ruling by the court is in order but long overdue because the current register is not credible for an election. The ruling, he said, is not directly for a replacement rather, it is meant to clean the current register which is flawed.
He also explained that this ruling is a specific order as compared to the 2012 landmark election petition ruling which requested the Commission to undertake electoral reforms.
“The data on those who used NHIS cards to register is with the EC; hence, they should immediately consult it various stakeholders on the way forward,” he said.
On cases of validation or the deletion of persons suspected to be dead, he said, the process will require proof from the family whose relatives are dead before the EC can delete it.
Mr. Agyemang informed that should the EC delete names of persons on the register through validation or confirmation without documentation and proof, they can be cited for illegality.
He suggested that if the EC wants to validate names and delete names of persons who fail to confirm their names, then they would have to propose a legal instrument, lay it before Parliament and get it approved.
In his opinion, it should not take the EC more than three weeks to comply with the order by the Supreme Court.
Mr. Agyemang implied that the current happenings at the EC is a clear indication that there is no cooperation among the officials, causing confusion and disregard to the laws regulating the electoral process; a situation he noted could create more problems for the Commission.