Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu justifies EC’s decision to use Ghana Card for voter’s registration
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, has justified the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to use Ghana Card as the sole document for voter’s registration.
This, he said, would go a long way to sanitize the electoral system and to ensure only qualified Ghanaian citizens were enrolled onto the electoral register.
He said claims of Ghanaians being disenfranchised as a result of the use of the Ghana Card was not true.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said this on Thursday, at a press conference in Parliament House in Accra.
On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, Parliament engaged the Ministry of Finance, represented by the Minister responsible for Finance, the Electoral Commission (EC) represented by the Chairperson of the Commission and the National Identification Authority (NIA) represented by the Executive Secretary at the Committee of the Whole Meeting.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said Parliament’s meeting with the three entities was to clear any lingering doubt of the intending continuous voter’s registration and the enabling Constitutional Instruments (CI) in which the EC had indicated the use of the National Identity Card (The Ghana Card) as the only means to identify Ghanaian citizens for the registration of voters.
He noted that there was an enactment of the Legislative Instrument (LI) 2111, which came into force in February, 2012, during the tenure of President John Evans Atta Mills.
He said at the time the LI came into force, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan was the Electoral Commissioner, and that Section 7 of that enactment called for the mandatory use of the National Identity Card.
“Now the NDC (National Democratic Congress) is saying that Ghana Card does not establish citizenship, that is what they are saying,” he said.
He said that Section 1 of the LI says that following individuals, who are eligible for registration under section 7 of the Act, shall apply in person in Authority for a National Identity Card to be known as the Ghana Card.
The Majority Leader said: “And 1 (a) says a Ghanaian citizen, so, once you submit yourself to apply and you are given the card, it establishes the fact that you are a Ghanaian citizen.”
He said while the card was not issued to Ghanaian Citizens alone but also foreign nationals, who had resided in Ghana for at least 90 days and those with dual citizenship, in addition to any other citizenship, they were issued with different cards.
“The NDC alleged that resorting to the use of Ghana Card will curtail the rights of citizens to vote. Where is this coming from?” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu asked.
He said in the past when the exercise of proof of citizenship began, the EC allowed the use of documents such as birth certificate, baptismal certificate, driver’s license, passport, the guarantor system and National Health Insurance Cards.
He said the use of the National Health Insurance Card for voter registration was struck out by the court.
He said with the passage of time, the EC had peeled off some of these instruments of identification that were to establish one’s citizenship.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu questioned whether the action of the Commission in the past amounted to restraining Ghanaian citizens of their identity to be registered as voters.
He said the NDC had cited Article 45 (e) of the Constitution that the EC existed to undertake programmes for expansion of registration of voters.
“First of all, it must be understood that the Commission does not only add to but also revises, sanitizes, in other words cleans up and make whole both the list or the register of voters and processes the compilation of voter’s register,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.
He said the EC’s functions included the compilation of the register of voters and revision of it at such periods as might be determined by law.
He said during the performance of its mandate the EC could take out names of the dead, foreigners and minors from the register, which could lead to a reduction in the number of persons on the roll.
He said L.I. 2111, which empowered the EC to use Ghana Card for voter’s registration came into force in February 2012, but could not be used for the registration of voters in the lead up to the 2012 general election because fewer Ghanaians were having it at that time.
It said as at that time less than 10,000 against the target voter population of 12 million Ghanaian had been issued with the national identity card.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said in 2016, the Charlotte Osei-led EC could also not use the Ghana Card because in the lead up the 2016 general election, less than 220,000 had been issued with the Ghana Card against the target voter population of close to 15 million.
He said in the lead up to the 2016 general election, the voter registration exercise that were done, the EC did not rely solely on the Ghana Card, even though it used it; and that at the time those who had Ghana Card could go with it to register.
“But I am saying that they did not rely on that solely for purposes of registration. The EC accordingly decided to resort to it as one of the instruments for the identification of Ghanaian citizens, not as the sole instrument.”
He said at the of election time of the 2020 election the number of citizens with Ghana Cards had significantly improved but the EC had informed Ghanaians that by February 2020, the number of Ghanaians who had been issued with the Ghana Card totalled just under seven million against a voter population of close to 17 million, so they couldn’t rely on it solely for purposes of registration but they use it for those who had alongside other forms of identifications.
He said when voting took place in 2020, the number of Ghanaians who had Ghana Card had improved up to 10 million, so the voting population of 16 million at that time included 10 million people who had used Ghana Card to register.
He said currently, the total population of 31 million Ghanaians, 17,375,861 people involving 15 years plus had registered for the Ghana Card.
He said as at now the component of 18 year olds and above who had registered was for the Ghana Card was 16,985,548, which compared with the Electoral Commission’s voter register of 18 years and above, which was 17,029,000.
“Now the component of 18-year-old and above who have the Ghana Card is 16,985,548, this compares to the EC’s voter’s register of 18 years and above is 17,029,000, which is very close,” the Majority Leader stated.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu reiterated that the NIA system of registration of issuance of Cards was much more robust than the EC’s.
“In compilation of the register of the NIA, it came to the fore that of the number, that is registered on their roll, 95,942 people attempted to register multiple times and were found out,” he said.
“Close to 96,000, perhaps the votes from two or three Constituencies and it can win Election – presidential election or Parliamentary. It is important to recognize how robust the system of the NIA is.”
He said the NIA system also detected that close to 44,000 people who tendered their Voter’s ID Cards for the Ghana Card registration had the same numbers.
He also noted that the NIA system was able to detect that 11,000 people with passports who came to register for the Ghana Card had the same numbers.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu intimated that the Majority would continue further engagement with the NDC Minority just so that people would get informed perspectives.