EC New Voter ID Law Violates Voting Rights of Citizens- Bernard Ahiafor

The Deputy Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislative Committee, Hon. Bernard Ahiafor has maintained that the Constitutional Instrument (C.I.126) approved by majority side of parliament violates the voting rights citizens who have none of the documents in the C.I.(126).

According to him, the Voter Identification card that was used in the 2012 and the 2016 general elections remained one of the most credible and authentic forms of proof of citizenship either than what the Electoral Commission sought to compile.

Mr. Ahiafor, who is also Member of Parliament for Akatsi South said, this while arguing for the annulment of the CI 126 in parliament on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.
The C.I 126 seeks to amend the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations 2016 in conformity with the decision of the Supreme Court on the subject matter by compiling a new voters register, according to the report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation.

It gives legal backing to the plans by the EC to compile a new registration of voters.
The C.I 126, is excluding or prohibiting the use of a driver’s license or the existing voter identification card as evidence of identity in the registration of a voter as contained in the existing Constitutional Instrument ( C.I 91 ) and allow the use of Ghana Card issued by the NIA and passport for registration as a voter.

Furthermore, a registered voter may guarantee for ten persons to register under C.I 126. But Bernard Ahiafor and his colleagues Minority Members kicked against the adoption of the committee’s report on the ground that it would disenfranchise many prospective voters as they could register as voters.

He said C.I . 126 is restricted and would not give citizens of Ghana the right and a fair opportunity to register as voters for the election.

The Akatsi South lawmaker noted that, though the Minority was not questioning the EC authority to conduct elections, he believed the exclusion of the Voter ID Card on grounds set out in the CI 126 was totally disrespectful to the Supreme Ruling in the Abu Ramadan verse the EC and Another in 2016.

In his view the passage of C.I. 126 into law goes against the decision of the Supreme Court, stressing that passing the C.I. 126 to allow the Electoral Commission (EC) to use the Ghana Card and Ghana Passport as the only forms of identification for persons registering to vote for the 2020 polls violates the fundamental citizenship right as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.

Mr. Ahiafor contended that in the first Abu Ramadan case, the court turned down the argument that the voter ID card that was obtained by Ghanaians under C.I 72 should be declared null and void because using it to register would amount to double registration.

Speaker of the house, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, granted the request of the Minority Leader for a division of the House to vote and individual MPs were called one after another to cast their votes under the supervision of the Clerk to Parliament and the leadership on both sides of the House.
“The House adopts the report accordingly and allows the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulation, 2020 (C.I. 126) to come into force at the exasperation of 21 sitting days, in accordance with Article 11 (7) of the Constitution,” the Speaker said after the vote.

“It must be made clear that the Constitution provides, in Article 11 (7), that any order, rule or regulation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitution or any other law shall: (a) be laid before Parliament, (b) be published in a gazette on the day it is laid before Parliament, and (c) comes into force at the expiration of 21 sitting days after being so laid, unless before the expiration of the 21 sitting days Parliament annuls the order, rule or regulation by a vote of not less than two-thirds of all Members of Parliament,” he added.

Source: Vida Gavor/ Parliament

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