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MPs demand briefing over plans to make Ghana Card sole ID for voter registration

MPs demand briefing over plans to make Ghana Card sole ID for voter registration

Minority caucus lawmakers of Ghana’s opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) are insisting on a parliamentary hearing into the announcement a few months ago by the Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) that the national biometric ID, the Ghana Card, will be the only accepted ID credential for upcoming voter registration, excluding the existing biometric voter ID cards.

As GhanaWeb reports, the caucus members are calling on EC authorities as well as those of the National Identification Authority (NIA) to be summoned to parliament to explain their plans which have, for the most part, sparked discontent among Ghanaians.

For now, the eligible credentials for voter registration in Ghana are a passport, a Ghana Card, or an existing Voter Card. But the EC wants the electoral law revised to make the Ghana Card the sole ID, going forward.

Haruna Idrissu, the leader of the minority caucus, is quoted as recently questioning why the EC is relying on the NIA for its biometric data whereas the Electoral Commission has its own biometric database which can be used to register voters, without necessarily using the Ghana Card.

The official also said there is a mismatch between figures of voter data presented by the EC and the NIA, adding that clarifications have to be made on the issue.

“Let us see the discrepancy and variance in your numbers because we will not accept any attempt by the electoral Commission to disenfranchise any Ghanaian because they want to rely on an ID card which is not available to Ghanaians,” said Idrissu on the floor of the house recently, as quoted by GhanaWeb in another report.

Concerns over the planned use of the Ghana Card as the only ID document for voter registration has been widely criticized, with many saying the move will disenfranchise millions of citizens who have not yet been issued the ID. The Ghana Card woes have been an issue of parliamentary debate in the past.

The point of anger, according to many local reports, is that the issuance of the Ghana Card is a process that is slow and beset by a litany of irregularities, and not all Ghanaians who have attained legal voting age hold the credential.

In the past months, Ghanaians have also not found it easy meeting a government directive to have their SIM cards registered biometrically, largely because of lack of a Ghana Card, which is also the only ID required for the purpose.

Ghana’s government is progressively and compulsorily linking the Ghana Card to many public services, but this is unfortunately not matched with the delivery speed of the ID, some citizens say.

Ghana has general elections coming in 2024, with a continuous biometric voter registration exercise slated for next year.

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