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MPs bicker over move to make Ghana Card sole ID for biometric voter registration

MPs bicker over move to make Ghana Card sole ID for biometric voter registration
 

A proposal for the amendment of Ghana’s electoral law to make the Ghana Card the only ID document to confirm one’s identity at the time of enlisting on the voter roll has been a source of discord among parliamentarians in the West African country.

Last month, the Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) Jean Mensa defended the agency’s proposal on this issue in parliament, saying the idea is to do away with the old guarantor voter registration system which gave room for different forms of fraud during general elections in the past.

Ghana has presidential and parliamentary elections on 7 December 2024 and the EC’s proposal on the Ghana Card is part of its readiness for a biometric voter registration exercise coming up in the months ahead.

According to Africa Report, the proposal has not only triggered disagreements and concern among Ghanaian members of parliament, but also among civil society groups who feel the move will disenfranchise a huge number of potential voters.

The outlet quotes minority leader Cassiel Ato-Forson as insisting that making the Ghana Card the only ID requirement for voter registration is likely to disenfranchise millions of citizens as the process of issuing the cards has in itself been rocked by a litany of problems.

To ruling party lawmakers such as Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, on the other hand, the introduction of the Ghana Card as the only ID document for voter registration is consistent with the EC’s move over the years to review instruments of identification for various purposes, per Africa Report.

The ruling New Patriotic Party is fully in support of the move, even suggesting that the Ghana Card should be made the only ID requirement beyond just the purpose of voter registration, as Business Ghana reports.

The party’s Director of Research Evans Nimako posits that the move will make the voter registration process more credible and eliminate unnecessary costs.

Although the EC and the National Identification Authority (the ID-issuing authority) have made assurances that measures have been taken to expedite the issuance of the cards to all eligible voters, opposition MPs and civil society groups argue the problems in delivering the cards remain severe, citing aspects like limited daily printing capacity of the cards.

The NIA says 17.5 million Ghana Cards have been issued as of 3 March.

Civil society groups like Imani Africa and the Center for Democratic Development mentioned by Africa Report have condemned the move and have called on parliament not to endorse it.

The groups say the move is rushed and are suggesting that the Ghana Card be used alongside the guarantor system for the time being, while sufficient measures are taken to ensure that the ID is issued to everyone who is eligible for it.

This is not the first major controversy with the Ghana Card. In the recent past, there were serious concerns when authorities also made it the only ID requirement for biometric SIM re-registration.

Liberia BVR commences 20 March

In a related story, Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) gas given assurances that everything is in place for the start of the pioneer biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise in the country on 20 March as planned.

In a briefing recently in the capital Monrovia, the NEC Chairwoman Davidetta Browne Lansanah said all aspects of preparations are on good footing. As part of the preparations, she said 3,195 biometric voter registration staff have been undergoing a five-day training between 13 and 17 March with the kits supplied by Laxton, writes The New Dawn.

In the meantime, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will send observers to help monitor the biometric registration process, accruing to the U.S. embassy in Monrovia as reported by Front Page Africa.

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