Parliament on Tuesday, by a division of the House, adopted a motion that proscribed the use of Ghanaian Birth Certificate and the current Ghana Voter Id Card as valid documents for the registration of Ghanaian citizens for the 2020 general elections.
A belated application by Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South Haruna Iddrisu for the division, granted by Speaker Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, after the Majority had won a voice vote earlier, resulted in 106 “ayes” and 92 “noes”.
In parliamentary procedure, a division of the assembly, division of the house, or simply division is a method of taking a vote that physically counts members voting.
Before the voice vote and the division, Members on the Majority Side, during a debate to adopt a report on the motion argued vehemently in favour of the motion, citing expansion of the electoral register, earlier constitutional instruments that did not include the cited documents as some of their reasons.
Members of the Minority, in their submission during the debate did not understand why the same Voter Id Card that brought the President, the Speaker, Ministers of State and Members of Parliament into power would no longer be used for the 2020 elections.
Their position, shared by Mr Mahama Ayariga, the MP for Bawku Central at the Committee for Subsidiary Legislation, which submitted a report on their findings on the challenge to the plenary.
The report was titled:”Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (C. I. 126)”
On behalf of the Minority Caucus of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Ayariga had filed a motion in Parliament calling for the outright rejection of the new Constitutional Instrument (CI) the Electoral Commission (EC) laid in Parliament to make the Ghana Card and the Ghanaian passport the only legal identification documents for registering people in the new biometric voters’ register.
The Bawku Central MP on behalf of the Minority was seeking the two-thirds of the legislators to reject the Public Elections (Amendment) Regulations 2020 CI 126.
Following the filing of the motion on May 19, 2020, the Business Committee of Parliament had to decide on a date Mr Ayariga would be allowed to move the motion on the floor to put up argument for the rejection of the C.I.
After that, legislators from both Sides of the House were to debate the motion and take a vote.
If two-thirds voted in favour of the motion, the Minority’s call for the new C.I. to be rejected would hold but if Majority legislators kicked against it, the motion would automatically need to go through the 21 continuous sitting days to mature and come into force.
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, on June 3, 2020 redirected the motion by Mr Ayariga to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee to challenge the Electoral Commission (EC’s) decision to accept only the Ghana Card and Passport for the voter registration.
The EC has presented the Public Election (Amendment) Regulation, 2020 (C.I. 126) to Parliament to amend C.I 91 to change the current identification requirements, passed in 2016.
The Bawku Central MP, who is the Member of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee, had appeared before the Committee earlier on Wednesday, but brought the matter again to the plenary, for which the Speaker declined to admit.
The Notice of Motion filed by Mr Ayariga was seeking Parliament to reject the Public Election (Registration of Voters) (Amendments) Regulations 2020 (C.I.126) pursuant to Article 11 (7)(c) of the Constitution.
Aside the Ghana Card or passport being acceptable documents for registering onto the voters’ register, persons who have already been captured on the new voters’ register can guarantee for others to register.
The Speaker of Parliament, in a memo, asked the appellant to rather appear before the Subsidiary Legislation Committee on the matter and, thus, rejected his application to move the motion on the floor.
Subsequently, there was no motion nor a vote put by the Speaker for Members present to respond “aye” or “no.
“The Instrument is seeking the House to endorse the EC’s decision to register new voters based on a new set of rules for the compilation of a new register for the December 2020 polls.
The new C.I., if passed, would allow for the use of the Ghana Card to register but make holders of the current Voter’s ID unqualified for registration.
“The Speaker sent me a memo in effect declining to admit the motion, urging that I should go before the Subsidiary Legislation Committee and present my arguments to them so that they will capture it in their report,” Mr Ayariga later told journalists.
“The report will be debated in the Chamber on the floor and at that point, I will also have an opportunity to argue my case, once my arguments are captured in the report.
“Citing constitutional provisions, Mr Ayariga insisted that the Birth Certificate and old Voter’s ID card should be included as valid documents for the registration.