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Another NPP vs EC battle over voter exhibition exercise looms

Another battle between the Electoral Commission (EC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) looms over how to implement a Supreme Court verdict ordering the removal of ineligible voters.

The Commission has indicated it will use the Voter Exhibition exercise to implement the order, but the NPP has raised questions about the constitutionality of this plan.

Lawyer Nana Asante Bediatuo, who secured a Supreme Court order on behalf of his clients, said he was “a bit baffled” by the EC’s plans.

Photo: Nana Asante Bediatuo, counsel for two politicians who went to court

The Supreme Court ruling Thursday directed that identities of deceased voters and those who used the NHIS card to register are to be expunged.

By the EC’s estimation, there are almost 600,000 dead voters on the roll for the polls. It remains to be seen how many voters registered with the NHIS card which the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 as illegal means of registering.

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court says the removal must be done immediately.

According to the Deputy EC Chair, Georgina Amankwah, the earliest opportunity to do this is in June when the register will be publicly exhibited to allow voters to check if their names are indeed captured in the register.

The exhibition process will also allow a person to challenge the inclusion of names suspected to be ineligible.

But according to Nana Asante Bediatuo, if the EC used this process to implement a court order, it would be illegal.

The lawyer explained that the exhibition process puts the responsibility of identifying ineligible voters on private individuals.

But referring to the court order, Nana Asante Bediatuo said the EC must by itself identify and delete the names.

He explained that during the hearings, the Electoral Commission told the Supreme Court that it could identify those who used the NHIS card to register by examining a registration document, Form 1 A.

“So if they are still talking about using the exhibition process…that would be in my view a violation of the court order”, he argued.

The NPP has employed every legal means to press home demands for a validation of the voters’ register which all stakeholders admit is bloated.

For more than a year, the main opposition party in concert with pro-NPP pressure groups and the Peoples’ National Convention (PNC) have used demonstration and court action to compel the EC.

Photo: Pro-NPP group, Let My Vote Count Alliance, demonstrated in September 2015 demanding for a new voters’ register

Any disagreement over how to implement the Supreme Court order could unsurprisingly end up in another court action.

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