The CSO platform on Good Governance, led by NORSAAC has released a preliminary report on the ongoing mass registration exercise been carried out by the Electoral Commission has revealed that COVID-19 protocols are not been adhere to in some of the registration centers in the northern zone. The mass registration exercise is to give all qualified Ghanaians new voter ID cards in order to give them the power to exercise their franchise come December 7, 2020, and in subsequent elections.
This report covers 30 polling stations in 6 constituencies across three regions during the first and second phases. In the Northern Region, the team observed proceedings in the following constituencies; Sagnarigu, Tamale Central, North, and South. In the Savannah Region, the team observed the exercise in the Damongo and Yapei Kusawgu Constituencies. In the North East Region, the team observed the process in the Bunkpurugu and Nalerigu/Gambaga constituencies
According to the report, the assurance that the EC gave Ghanaians that, there will be health workers on standby, provision of PPEs among others to control the spread of the virus was subsequently missing in some centers. This develop the team believes ‘’the nation is embarking on a COVID spreading assignment.’’
‘’There are worrying actions at the centres from the EC, political party agents and the general public that expose all to the rapid spread of the corona virus. ‘’ the report says.
Another observation in almost all polling stations visited, majority of the registrants were not in any appropriate personal protective attire. The electoral officers and security personnel in some polling stations were operating without PPEs, notable in the Tamale South, North and Gambaga/Nalerigu Constituencies.
Another worrying account of the team is that a political party agent had one nose mask that was given to every registrant who was ready to be registered but had no nose mask. In fact, there were some polling stations where the observers reported that no registrant was in nose mask or face shield at a
Most of the registration centers were turned into market centers ‘’with some actually maximizing the opportunity of the crowd to do their business.’’ This situation played a role for people to disregard social distancing at the centers.
‘’In summary, the electoral commission forgot that they promised to respect the extra-ordinary circumstances under which they are undertaking this exercise. Generally, our team of independent observers rated adherence to COVID 19 in the exercise as bad. We project with some level of confidence that the voter registration exercise may end leaving at up to 1% of Ghanaian eligible voters contracting the CORONA VIRUS DISEASE’’.
In the light of our observation during the first and second phases, we recommend the following moving into the next phase;
1. The electoral commission must provide facemasks to all registrants who report to centers without one. Driving the registrants away will amount to denying them their fundamental rights to register.
2. The political parties must equally conscientize their agents on best COVID 19 adherence and their roles in curbing the spread of the disease at the polling stations.
3. Electorates must take personal responsibilities and take appropriate measures to protect themselves against the pandemic.
In conclusion, NORSAAC commends the media and other CSOs including the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) for their interest in the exercise. We advise the citizens to be responsible despite the huge negligence from the Electoral Commission of Ghana in the exercise. We should remember the battle with CORONA VIRUS is yet to begin and we must continue to take the necessary precautionary measures to stay safe.
But the report also commended the EC for their effort especially the provision of friendly environment for people with disabilities, handwashing materials and the checking of temperature at registration centres.