Parliament has voted to allow the Electoral Commission (EC) to use the Ghana Card and Passports as the only forms of identification for persons registering to vote.
The legislators voted in a 102 to 96 decision in favour of the amendment of the Constitutional Instrument empowering the EC to organise elections in the country.
The vote occurred after the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, granted a request from the Minority Leader following a debate on the amendment.
The EC has presented the Public Election (Amendment) Regulation, 2020 (C.I. 126) to Parliament to amend C.I 91 in order to change the current identification requirements.
This means the old voter ID will not be valid for registering to vote.
The Subsidiary Legislation Committee, which considered the amendment, could not arrive at a consensus as to whether the exclusion of a driver’s license and the existing voter ID from the amendment was constitutional.
But according to its report, it recommended by majority decision the passing of the amendment.
Aside from the Ghana Card or passport being acceptable documents for registering, persons who have already been captured on the new voters register can guarantee for others.
Per the Constitutional Instrument that was first put before Parliament, “a person who applies for registration as a voter shall provide as evidence of identification one of the following: a passport, a national identification card, or one voter registration identification guarantee form as set out in Form one of the schedule that has been completed and signed by two registered voters.”
The Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga, tried unsuccessfully to get the House to reject the amendment via a motion that was rejected by the Speaker of Parliament.
The National Identification Authority will also begin issuing the remaining printed Ghana Cards on June 10.
This has led to concerns from observers and political stakeholders who claim that a significant number of Ghanaians will be disenfranchised because the National Identification Authority is yet to complete its registration exercise.
Minority MPs and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have also accused the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) of conniving with the EC and the NIA to rig the 2020 elections.
Supreme Court battle
The EC and the NDC are currently battling over the legitimacy of the amendment at the Supreme Court.
The Commission recently filed a 31-page document to justify the exclusion of the Voter ID from the list of required identification.
The EC argued that it was an independent body and had the constitutional responsibility of determining how any registration exercise will be conducted.
It has also described the old voter ID as “a fruit from a poisoned tree” and a breach of Article 42 of the constitution.
Article 42 notes that: “Every citizen of Ghana of 18 years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.”
It cited the court’s judgement in the Abu Ramadan case, where it indicated that the use of the National Health Insurance Card to register a voter is inconsistent with Article 42 of the constitution and therefore void.