The processes to get credible voters register for the December 7, 2020 elections enter the crescendo today with the commencement of the exhibition of the provisional register.
The eight-day exercise is being carried out in all the 33,367 polling stations and will present an opportunity for registered voters to correct their records, make inclusions and table objections to ineligible persons on the voters roll.
It is the final stage of the process to clean up the register.
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa, said it had deployed 73,107 officials across the exhibition centres to ensure a successful exercise.
Speaking at the ‘Let the Citizens Know’ series in Accra yesterday, she said the officials the EC had deployed were made up of exhibition supervisors, deputy exhibition supervisors, verification officers, as well as COVID-19 ambassadors, whose role would be to help enforce the COVID-19 safety protocols.
Mrs Mensa explained that the exhibition of the voters register was in compliance with regulations 22(1) and 23(1) of C.I. 91, which enjoined the EC to compile a provisional voters register for each polling station, indicating the particulars and photographs of each person whose application was received and accepted during the registration process.
She added that the regulations further required the EC to display the provisional register for public inspection.
On that score, she urged all registered voters to take the exercise seriously, since it was the final stage of authenticating their data and helping to get a credible final register for the December 7 elections.
In terms of the deployment of materials, she said 5,000 biometric verification devices (BVDs) and all registers had been sent to the centres.
She added that a mobile team had also been deployed to respond to any challenges that might arise at the exhibition centres.
Mrs Mensa said aside from the names reference register, the EC had also provided the exceptions list, a document that had the names of persons whose registration had been successfully challenged.
Additionally, she said, a multiple list, containing names of 6,080 people found to have engaged in multiple registration, had also been made available at the exhibition centres.
Mrs Mensa said in collaboration with the Supreme Court, the EC had appointed district magistrates to serve as district registration review officers who would have the responsibility of making decisions on all complaints and objections that would be raised during the exhibition exercise.
“The district registration review officers will also authenticate the provisional register by endorsing it,” she said.
She added that the officers were also expected to communicate in writing the decisions taken on the exhibition exercise to the EC “and the commission, shall within 14 days after the parties to the cases have been informed, comply with the decisions of the review officers”.
The chairperson urged all registered voters to go to the exhibition centres to check their registration status to be sure of their records.
“As it stands now, the register is only provisional until the exhibition is completed; therefore, all registered voters must go and check their records because, if for nothing at all, the verification of details is important,” she said.
On the use of online means to check the registration status of voters, she said registered voters could text their voter identification (ID) numbers to the short code 1422 to check their status.
However, she said such people would also have to go to the district offices of the EC to effect changes to their records because that could not be done online.
More on exhibition
Earlier, the Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr Serebour Quarcoo, had told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the formula for distributing the BVDs was such that each district would get the devices at 15 per cent of its total exhibition centres.
“What we did was that we ensured that every district had 15 per cent of the centres covered. In the allocation of the BVDs, we identified places with higher cases of finger traumas and prioritised those areas. We also tried to get the devices at highly populated areas,” he said.
He said in cases where anyone could not go to the exhibition centre in person, that person could arrange with a relative to do so on his or her behalf, except that the person who would do the checking could not make any changes to the records.
“One person can check for as many people as possible, but if there are corrections to be made, the person must be there in person to do those changes,” he said.
Dr Quarcoo explained that people who found their names on the exceptions and multiple lists could still use the exhibition of the voters register as an opportunity to object to the list and go through the final process to justify why their names should be taken off those lists.
“These categories of people have the opportunity to object to their names on those lists and appear before a district magistrate to make a case for their inclusion in the register.
“If such people do not successfully object to their names on the exceptions and multiple lists, their names will be in the data system but they cannot vote because they will be flagged as having committed offences,” he said.
When asked about the number of people on the exceptions list, he said there was no conclusive figure yet, since the challenge process was still in progress.
“Over 37,000 people were challenged during the registration and had to face the election adjudicating committee. If the committee disqualifies you, the law allows you to appeal through a chief review officer appointed by the Chief Justice. Some people are still going through that process; till they finish, I cannot give the final figure,” he said.
The EC provisionally registered 16,963,306 people at the end of the biometric voters registration exercise which ended on August 9, this year, exceeding its 15 million target.
At the end of the exercise, the eligibility of 37,762 applicants was challenged for various reasons, including being foreigners or minors.
As part of processes to clean up the register, the EC carried out a de-duplication exercise and also constituted the Election Adjudication and the Vetting committees to help expunge the names of ineligible applicants.
A 16-member multi-stakeholder Vetting Committee, which was inaugurated by the Chairperson of the EC on August 5, this year, was to manually determine the eligibility of people who had been flagged for multiple registration through the de-duplication process to be on the voters roll.
The committee was constituted in compliance with Regulation 27 of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulation, 2016, which states that “the commission shall certify the register after determination of claims of objection”.