The Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) UK/Ireland Chapter, Alhaji Alhassan Mbalba says, over one million Ghanaians in the diaspora risk not registering as voters for the 2020 general elections due to COVID-19.
According to him, the Electoral Commission of Ghana had decided to register eligible Ghanaians in the diaspora in its ongoing voter registration exercise but the closure of Ghana’s borders coupled with the lockdown in some countries as a result of COVID-19 could disenfranchise them in the 2020 general elections.
Speaking on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East, Alhaji Mbalba appealed to the EC for a window of opportunity to register, should the COVID-19 situation improves and government reopens Ghana’s borders.
“My interaction with the Electoral Commission’s director of electoral services Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, he said, the EC had plans to travel to other countries to register Ghanaians residing there but because of the COVID-19 and the border closures in Ghana and other countries it appears they might not be able to do it.
If in deed, we are introducing an enhanced biometric register where we will have facial recognition and the biometric details then there is nothing stopping us from continuous registration after this exercise. So that, even if we finish on the August 6, and the situation improves, come September, October or a month to the election, then those who couldn’t register should be given the opportunity to register for their voters’ ID”.
Alhaji Mbalba expressed doubts about the EC’s operationalization of the Representative of the People’s Amendment Act (ROPAA) to enable Ghanaians abroad vote in the 2020 elections.
“With the preparations towards ROPAA, the EC has missed important milestones and so they cannot just get up and start introducing ROPAA, for me, I don’t think ROPAA is coming on.
The consultative committee that was set-up to collate views from the diaspora was supposed to submit to submit their report to the EC may, 2019 for the preparation of a legislative Instrument (L.I) indicating the registration centres for the full operations of the ROPAA but this has not been done”.
Alhaji Mbalba appealed to the EC to consider continuous registration of eligible Ghanaian voters particularly those in the diaspora a month to the elections in order not to disenfranchise their civic right to vote.