The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has warned that there could be far-reaching consequences if the Electoral Commission does not enforce COVID-19 safety protocols at centres in the ongoing mass voter registration exercise.
The party’s director of elections, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah who was speaking at the NDC’s press briefing on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, said their observations indicate a violation of all COVID-19 safety protocols despite assurances by the EC to ensure compliance.
According to him, the chaos and the laxity in the social distancing rule is indicative that the electoral management body has lost control over the situation.
“There has been total chaos. Ghanaians will recall that one of the major concerns of the NDC, CSOs and medical superintendents, and health workers, lecturers and ordinary Ghanaians raised about the compilation of the new voters’ register was the risk of exposing Ghanaians to the further spread of the novel coronavirus. Our predictions were right. The EC despite the assurances by the Electoral Commission that they will ensure the observance of COVID-19 safety protocols, they have lost total control over the process. From the beginning of the exercise, we have witnessed complete disregard for COVID-19 protocols. While we observe that the wearing of face mask is being strictly enforced, upon entry at the registration center, social distancing and washing of hands are not been observed.”
Since the beginning of the voter registration exercise, one of the assessments that have heavily featured is the concerns over the lack of social distancing at the centres.
As a result, the EC has introduced what it calls the queue management system at all of its registration centres to tackle issues with overcrowding.
The queue management system will ensure that the first 150 applicants who arrive at the registration centres will be provided with “numbered chits”, according to the EC.
The first half of this number will be served from morning to early afternoon, while the second half will be asked to leave the centres and return in the afternoon when the registration process for the first batch has been completed.
Halt voter registration exercise – Health professionals
Some health professionals in the country have written to the Electoral Commission asking the electoral management body to pause the ongoing voter registration exercise until safer ways of conducting the exercise are identified to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
According to them, suspending the exercise will help prevent needless Coronavirus deaths in the country.
“Pause the mass registration, figure out safer ways of carrying it out and prevent Ghana from suffering potentially thousands of deaths or continue with the exercise in this form and be remembered by posterity as a leader who supervised an exercise that allowed for the loss of multiple lives,” the group said in its letter to the commission.
The health professional comprising doctors, nurses, lab technicians among others, and numbering 221, had earlier petitioned the EC cautioning against the rollout of the mass registration for Voter ID cards over fears of COVID-19 death hikes.
According to them, the blatant disregard for the Coronavirus safety protocols in the exercise is inimical to the current public health crisis in the country.
In their second open letter to the EC, the health professionals say the Commission must rethink the compilation of the new register for the 2020 polls.