Ahead of the Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-election scheduled for Jan 31 ,a youth group calling itself the Youth Bridge Foundation (YGF), says if an updated voter’s register was not used for the exercise, it would amount to a breach of the 1992 Constitution hence has served a notice to the EC to the effect of the by-election .
According to the group, the move for a by-election without updating the voters register to allow persons who have, since the last election, attained a voting age, would amount to depriving them without any legal basis.
Therefore, the group called on the EC to treat the call for an updated register as very crucial in promoting inclusion, and act on it with a sense of urgency, emphasizing that failure to heed to its sincere and genuine call might “compel us to seek redress at the appropriate quarters.”
“We, therefore, call on the EC to open a limited registration exercise for all the young constituents of Ayawaso West Wuogon, who are eligible to vote and yet have not been registered,” it maintained.
In a release signed and issued by the group’s Executive Director, Mr Seth Obeng confirmed the position of the group in a release that “the situation is worrying because over the years, the Commission’s neglect of its constitutional duty to register first time voters (those who have turned 18 after the previous general election) prior to by-elections, appears to have been institutionalised as the norm rather than the exception.”
That act, on the part of the EC, the group said, amounted to negligence and dereliction of duty and must never be countenanced, as it indicts the commitment of the EC to youth participation in the electoral processes of Ghana.
Per the position of the group according to the release, “Unfortunately, even though the EC has been able to fix a date for the impending Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, the commission has neglected its duty to enfranchise all the young Ghanaians who turned 18 years after the 2016 general election in the constituency”.
In other words, there has been no registration exercise for the teeming young people who attained the voting age of 18 after 2016 and who are now eligible to vote,” it added.
The group stated that the electoral laws of Ghana admonished the EC to revise the voters’ roll every year while the Electoral Reforms Committee set up by the EC in 2013 also recommended continuous voter registration to ensure that all young Ghanaians were captured on the voters’ roll at all times and prior to all elections.
Also, the group maintained that Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution also admonishes the EC to register all Ghanaians who turn 18 years to prepare them to participate in all elections.
The group said as much as it commends the EC for responding to its call to duty and fulfilling its constitutionally imposed mandate of fixing a date for the by-election to replace the deceased Member of Parliament (MP), as a youth development and empowerment organisation, it wished to express grave concern about the potential attempt to disenfranchise some young Ghanaian citizens in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency who had turned 18 years after the 2016 general election.
“As a youth development and empowerment agency, we are unable to sit idle while some young people are blatantly disenfranchised through the EC’s act of omission or commission,” the group said.
It added that such a situation amounted to an act of negligence and dereliction of duty which must never be countenanced as it indicted the commitment of the Commission to youth participation in the electoral processes of Ghana.