Guarantor system not new -EC
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Jean Mensah, has indicated that the guarantor system, which would be used in the upcoming voter registration exercise, is actually not a new phenomenon.
The Electoral Commissioner yesterday, while addressing Ghanaians in anticipation of the 2020 voter registration exercise which begins today and ends on July 6, said that the guarantor system had been with Ghana since the beginning of democracy.
It would be noted that the C.I 126 has specified the eligible documentation for proving one’s identity as a Ghanaian in the upcoming registration exercise. The C.I 126 has specified that for one to qualify to register you must produce either a valid passport or a national identification card issued by the National Identification Authority.
The C.I 126 further specifies that in the event that a citizen of Ghana does not have either of the above documents, he or she must present two guarantors who must, themselves, have registered under the current registration process to guarantee the identity of the one they seek to provide the guarantee for.
The EC head intimated that the framers of the law anticipated a situation in which Ghanaians might, for legitimate and unavoidable reasons, be unable to prove or provide documentation to prove their citizenship, and, hence, made provision for the guarantor system.
“Guaranteeing of identity through the use of the guarantor system is actually not a new phenomenon in Ghana’s voting procedures.
“This system has been with us since the beginning of our democracy, as the framers of the law anticipated the situation in which Ghanaians might, for legitimate and unavoidable reasons, be unable to prove or provide documentation to prove their citizenship.”
The EC Commissioner said she had to take her time to make Ghanaians understand, because some concerns have been raised about the use of guarantors.
Presenting data on the number of people who have been registered in the past using the guarantor system, the EC head said that in 2014, 928,540 persons were registered as voters, and out of that number, 82.2% of the registered voters used the guarantor system, while in 2016, out of the 1,046, 067 persons registered as voters, 92.5% used the guarantor system.
The EC boss also observed that during the limited registration exercise in 2019, out of the 1,211,395 persons who were registered, 95.2% used guarantors.
Madam Jean Mensah said that her predecessors have used the system to ensure that no one is left behind in the registration exercise or disenfranchised for valid reasons, and her team intends to do same.
She indicated that though the system may seem like a burden, since one had to find two registered persons to vouch for one’s identity as a Ghanaian, which may consume the time of both persons, it will ensure that only persons who are Ghanaians and of 18 years are in the new voters register.
The EC Commissioner said she hopes that the 2020 elections would be the last time that Ghana, as a country, will need the guarantor system, because all persons would have been issued with the National Identification card by the end of the year, and the processes for applying for the card should have become routine procedure carried out at the national, district and regional levels.
Madam Jean Mensah indicated that the registration of voters was a critical process in Ghana’s electoral cycle, because the voters register is the bedrock on which credible elections rest.
She assured Ghanaians that the Commission’s rational for compiling the new register is not to disenfranchise any eligible voter, but to ensure that all citizens are afforded the opportunity to register and cast their vote, and called on everyone to join hands and ensure that every eligible citizen gets registered.
The EC head also outlined other measures that the Commission had put in place to ensure the smooth running of the exercise. She indicated that aged, pregnant, and lactating mothers, as well as disabled persons, had been catered for, and advised all those in the above category to go to the Commission’s website and follow procedures.
The Commissioner also indicated that proper measures had been put in place to ensure that people are protected from the Covid-19.
She indicated that the registration would be done in open spaces at the various registration centers to protect both the EC staff and the eligible registrants.