Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ghana: Biometric voter registration exercise continues

Electoral Commission (EC) registration teams are to visit each of Ghana's 43 prisons from 29 May to allow prisoners to register to vote although, according to Electoral Commissioner Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, they will only be able to vote in the presidential poll in December and not in parliamentary elections. The president announced government's intention to allow prisoners to vote last year, after years of national debates, amid pressure from human rights campaigners and a Supreme Court ruling which was backed by President John Atta Mills.

The EC had initially planned to register prisoners during the 40-day biometric registration exercise but changed its mind because of the lack of credible databases confirming prisoners' identities. This prompted an outcry from human rights groups who said that the electoral body was reneging on its constitutional obligation to allow prisoners the right to elect their country's leader. For example the well-known human rights lawyer, Kojo Graham, threatened to take the EC to the Supreme Court if prisoners were not included in the biometric registration exercise. A Ghana Prison Service (GPS) taskforce was set up to tour the country's prisons, helping inmates to provide authentic identification details.

The EC has also announced that a biometric voter registration “mop-up” exercise is scheduled to take place on 9-10 June in selected centres across Ghana. This will allow those who were unable to register the first time around due to technical or other difficulties the chance to do so.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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