Ghanaian prisoners will be registered to vote – Dr. Afari Gyan

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman, Electoral Commission of Ghana, has reiterated that Ghanaians incarcerated in the country’s prisons will be given an opportunity to vote in the upcoming general elections.

He said in view of that steps have been taken to ensure they take part in this month’s biometric registration that will take place across the country.

Answering a question on whether prisoners in Ghana would also be covered in the biometric register to vote during the country’s December general elections, after he had addressed a roundtable discussion held in Accra, Dr. Afari-Gyan said “Yes, the prisoners – we will register them and they will vote.”

The EC Chairman however stated there are issues that need to be addressed before the registration commences.

He listed them as the inability of  stakeholders to agree that prisoners should be allowed to vote in both Presidential and Parliamentary elections and what constituencies they should vote in.

“But the fact of the matter is, if you take say Nsawam, the prisoners are over 3,000, so the Nsawam MP says if the prisoners are going to vote in Nsawam I will not agree. So if you have a big prison in someone’s constituency, the person says he’s not going to allow them to vote,” Dr, Afari-Gyan said, drawing an analogy on the encumbrances being encountered in the process.

He stressed that nonetheless the prisoners will have to be registered, because with the biometric system they can no longer vote by proxy.

He divulged that the prison officers on their part have stated categorically that they will not allow politicians to campaign in the prisons as that is their barracks, though they can send their videos to be played there, which is something that still needs discussion.

“But they have allowed us to set up polling stations – At Nsawam for example there will be a minimum of three polling stations,” he disclosed.

The roundtable discussion was on the topic “Biometric Voters’ Registration and Verification System in West Africa: Nigeria’s Experience, Ghana’s Perspective”.

It was held by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, in partnership with the Civic Forum Initiative and supported by the European Commission, Star-Ghana and the African Capacity Building Foundation.

Other panellists were Prof. Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria; Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, Director, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD)-West Africa, Nigeria and Mr. Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow, IDEG, while Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director, IDEG chaired the discussion.

Participants were from the electoral commissions of Ghana and Nigeria, political parties, academia, parliament, the media, religious bodies, ministries, departments and agencies and civil service organisations.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

1 Comment
  1. Gladstone Danso says

    I thiking it is not appropriate to allow prison inmates to vote. Even though the registration can be done. Simply because, most of the prison inmates thinking capacity is a little below normal, due to situation or condition in which they found themselves. Since one of the qualifications of the elegible voters is to be of sound mind. I therefore, object the idea of allowing prison inmates to vote.

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