The first day of the limited voter registration exercise which began yesterday recorded incidents of date errors, mechanical hitches, low turnout and confusion at some centres.
Reports from various registration centres, particularly in the Ashanti Region, indicated that machines were recording wrong dates, with some malfunctioning.
The exercise, which kick-started in the early hours of yesterday and expected to end on Sunday, 8th May, 2016, is targeted at fresh voters who have just clocked 18 years and above as well as those who have reached voting age but were unable to register previously – like Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, NDC parliamentary aspirant for Klottey Korle Constituency in Accra, who is being challenged in court over her voter card issue.
Dr Zanetor, who registered at Nyaniba polling station in the constituency, was among the first to register with a voter’s card gone viral on social media after completing the process.
Apart from the rains that disrupted the exercise in certain parts of the country, causing the exercise to be postponed to the following day, photographs of some newly registered persons popped up on various social media platforms with noticeable errors.
Even though yesterday’s date was April 28, 2016, some of the machines recorded April 27, 2016, giving people cause to worry.
This was in view of the fact that some concerns had been raised about the Electoral Commission (EC) sending the registration devices to certain areas way ahead of time, raising suspicion of possible registration of unqualified persons ahead of time and tinkering with the machines.
Some expressed the fear that the recording of wrong dates could also be used as a means to disenfranchise potential voters, considering the fact that once any such registration enters the central database it will be rejected.
NPP Director of Elections, Martin Adjei Mensah-Korsah, alleged that there was a grand scheme in place to disenfranchise people, especially in the party’s strongholds.
According to him, people who register in the ongoing limited registration exercise are issued cards with wrong dates to make them (cards) invalid on Election Day.
According to a correspondent in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi, the exercise started in the region on a negative note, as wrong dates were embossed on some of the new voter ID cards.
Even though the cards were issued to the people on April 28, 2016, interestingly the dates on most of them had April 27, 2016 as the date that the new cards were issued to the people, raising eyebrows among the people.
Some known NPP members in the region, including Edmund Kyei, the Asokwa Constituency Communications Director, who spotted the anomaly, suspected foul play on the part of the EC and so protested vehemently, saying that it was a ploy to disenfranchise some potential voters in the region.
“The cards are being issued to the people on Thursday, April 28, 2016 so why has the date on the cards issued been changed to April 27, 2016?” the outspoken NPP communicator asked with a grim face, adding that the party would pressurise the EC to correct the blunder.
Speaking with DAILY GUIDE, Mr Kyei said the wrong dates on the voter ID cards had been recorded in several parts of the Ashanti Region, stressing that the development was a clear move by the EC to deny some people the right to vote in the region.
Reacting to the issue, Lawrence Sarpong, Deputy EC boss in the region, confirmed that indeed some of the new voter ID cards had wrong dates on them, noting that it was a genuine problem that would be rectified by the Commission.
He disclosed that areas such as Atwima Kwanwoma, Kwadaso and Asante Mampong recorded the wrong date syndrome, indicating that the EC quickly recalled those machines which produced the wrong date and replaced them with new ones.
The EC capo also admitted that patronage of the exercise in the region was not that massive as expected, partly attributing the trend to low publicity.
The controversial EC logo also reared its ugly head at the registration centres.
DAILY GUIDE spotted the old EC logo with the Coat of Arms on display on the accreditation forms which were given to the political parties’ agents in the Suhum Constituency of the Eastern Region.
The accreditation forms had the old logo boldly printed on the letterhead while the new controversial logo outdoored recently was conspicuously missing. But other documents for the registration had the new logo.
Nana, Mahama Tour
Flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who visited a number of registration centres in the Ashanti Region, urged agents of his party to remain vigilant and ensure that only eligible persons were registered.
President John Mahama, who was on a three-day tour of the Brong-Ahafo Region, also toured some registration centres before ending the tour.
The Mpraeso constituency was a virtual battle ground as Salifu Mahama, constituency chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), caused confusion at God’s Way polling station by sacking some young people who were in the queue to register.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that Salifu Mahama, together with some Zongo youth in the party’s Mahindra Pick-up, stormed the station to drive away some people he alleged were minors.
The incident, which nearly disrupted the process, called for the intervention of a police reinforcement team before the exercise continued.
The controversial NDC chairman went on rampage, commanding the Zongo youth to vandalise tables and plastic chairs. The action incited the NPP members at the scene to trade blows with the NDC chaps and hurl stones at one another.
When contacted by DAILY GUIDE, Salifu Mahama denied leading ‘machomen’ to cause mayhem at the registration centre.
According to him, the NPP conveyed some students who were believed to be below 18 years from the various secondary schools in the constituency to the centre to register, adding that he therefore went there to stop them.
Baba Moro Fuseini, the Mpraeso constituency NPP organiser, told DAILY GUIDE that the party did not undertake any such venture but that it was the NDC that was preventing the youth in the constituency from registering.
According to the NPP, the NDC rather conveyed some foreigners and kept them in their homes to register.
The exercise suffered low patronage in most of the centres visited by reporters of the paper in the Adentan and La-Nkwatanang Municipalities of the Greater Accra Region as only a handful of people were seen in queues.
An argument ensued at two centres when the party representatives saw the registration officers adding a zero to the end of the serial numbers quoted on the registration forms.
They, however, explained that the devices they were using had been programmed to capture serial numbers which were up to eight digits, for which reason the zeros were being added.
At midday the Adentan Centre had registered 34 people but issued only 24 registration cards due to the slow performance of the devices.
Party representatives were therefore worried that if the trend continued some prospective voters would be disenfranchised in the November general election.
A girl who just turned 18 at midnight on Wednesday told DAILY GUIDE that she had long expected yesterday and could not wait to vote on November 7.