The Electoral Commission (EC) has held a national dialogue with some stakeholders towards improving turnout in the upcoming voters exhibition exercise slated to begin from September 18 to 25, this year.
The voters exhibition exercise, which is the last of the processes aimed at cleaning up the voters register ahead of the December 7 polls, will be done in the 33,366 exhibition centres across the country to allow registered voters to confirm their registration status; make corrections and inclusions to their information; and also challenge ineligible registrants.
However, the EC is worried that the poor turnout that had characterised such exercises in the past may affect this year’s exhibition, which is why the Commission is taking steps to whip up the interest of the public.
A Deputy Chairman of the EC in charge of Operations, Mr Samuel Tettey, said, for instance, that the highest turnout the Commission recorded during exhibition exercises in the country was 63.7 per cent in 2012; but the turnout dropped to 45.7 per cent in 2016.
Speaking at the dialogue session, which took place in Accra yesterday, he said the voters exhibition exercise was as important as the voters registration and, therefore, should not be taken for granted.
Participants in the national dialogue included stakeholders such as women, the youth and persons with disability (PWDs), who, together, constitute over 60 per cent of the total registered voters.
Officials of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE); the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP); representatives of political parties and faith-based organisations (FBOs) were also part of the dialogue session.
Women, PWDs key stakeholders
Mr Tettey explained that the decision to target women, the youth and PWDs in the dialogue was because they constituted a greater proportion of the voter population but relatively lacked information on the electoral processes.
“The Commission recognises the important role that the youth, women and PWDs have been playing in the electoral process. There is the likelihood that some of the above stakeholders may not know the essence of the exhibition of voters register; and it is for this reason that the gender, youth and disability desk of the EC organised this national dialogue to sensitise them”, he said.
The EC deputy chairman urged all stakeholders to support the EC to ensure that the majority of the registered voters on the provisional register turned up for the exhibition exercise since that would lead to a credible final register for the December 7 elections.
Details of exhibition exercise
Providing details on the exhibition exercise, the Director of Training at the EC, Mr Michael Boadu, said all the centres that would be used for voting on December 7 would serve as exhibition centres.
He explained that apart from being an opportunity to correct personal information on the voters register, the exhibition would help potential voters to know the specific polling stations they would cast their vote.
Mr Boadu explained that the name reference list, a document that contains names of all registered voters arranged alphabetically, would be provided at the exhibition centre for easy identification of registered voters.
Additionally, he said, exceptions list, which is a document containing the names of people whose registration had been challenged during the registration process, would be provided at the exhibition centre.
“These names will not be in the voters register and, therefore, they cannot vote on December 7”, he said.
Also, Mr Boadu said the EC would provide the multiple list, indicating the names of persons who registered more than once during the registration process.
He added that the provision of the exception and multiple list at the exhibition centre would offer an opportunity for persons who fell into that category to raise objections and be heard before the final register was published.
On the use of online means to check the registration status of voters, Mr Boadu said persons who, for one reason, could not go to exhibition centres could text their voters identification (ID) to the short code 1422 to check their status.
“The problem with this online means is that you will be able to check your registration status but you cannot effect changes to your information. Those who use the online platform will have to go to the district offices of the EC to do any changes”, he said.
He added that sending a text to the short code 1422 to verify one’s registration status would be free within the exhibition period.
“If you key in now to check before the exhibition, it will attract a charge,” he said.
Mr Boadu added that the EC would deploy 5000 biometric verification devices (BVDs) to some selected exhibition centres to enable potential voters to authenticate their biometric details ahead of the December 7 polls.
He explained that the deployment of the 5000 BVDs would help the EC to know the status of those devices before the election.