Parliament by a majority of 106 to 92 votes adopted the report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the controversial Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, Constitutional Instrument (C. I.) 126 submitted by the Electoral Commission (EC) after a heated debate on Tuesday June 09, 2020.
The Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu citing the Standing Orders of the House challenged the Speakers ruling on the voice vote and called for a vote by ballot to be cast to determine those in favour of adoption of the report enabling individual MPs to be called one after the other to cast their votes under the supervision of Leadership from both sides of the House and Parliamentary Staff.
As anticipated, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs present in the House during the debate voted en bloc against the approval of the C.I. in line with their party’s aspiration while their counterparts from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) voted for it.
The new C.I. which matures at the close of day effectively amended the existing electoral regulation C.I. 91 thus making Ghana card and passports the only forms of identification one can use to get onto the new voters’ register.
The approval by the House invariably means all other forms of national identification including the existing voter’s identity card, birth certificate and other national documents cannot be used in registering for the new voter identification card.
According to the new legal authority, people who do not have any of the two documents, namely the Ghana card and passports would have to get two newly registered voters to guarantee for them before they can register, however no individual can guarantee for more than ten people.
The Instrument was laid in the House by the Majority Leader Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu on Tuesday March 31, 2020 in accordance with Article 1 (17) of the 1992 Constitution and referred to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation for consideration and report pursuant to the Standing Orders of the House by the Speaker Rt. Hon. Prof. Michael Oquaye.
It is worthy to note that unlike regular bills it was impossible for Parliament to amend any part of the C.I. since Constitutional Instruments laid on the floor of the House automatically mature after twenty one sitting days and the House could only reject it or allow for it to mature.
Twenty-one out of the twenty five-member Subsidiary Legislation Committee members who were present at the Committee meeting on Wednesday June 3, 2020 had earlier voted 12-9 in favour of the Instrument to give legal backing to the EC to compile the new voter’s register.
Chairman of the Committee and MP for Bolgatanga East, Dr. Dominic Akuritunga Ayine moving the motion for the adoption of the Report of the Committee at the plenary seconded by the Ranking Member Hon. Yaw Buabeng Asamoah recommending that the House approves the C.I., explained that the Committee examined the C.I. within the ambit of the general objects of the Constitution.
He said the Committee was of the view that the rationale for the Instrument was in accordance with the powers of the Electoral Commission under Article 51 with respect to the compilation of a credible and widely accepted voter register for the conduct of public elections and referenda in the country.
According to the Committee Chairman, it was however regrettable that the Committee could not arrive at a consensus as to whether or not the exclusion of a driver’s licence, birth certificate and existing voter identification card from the C.I. 126 was constitutional.
He therefore lamented that the Committee could only recommend to the House by a majority decision to adapt its report and allow the C.I. to mature after the expiration of the twenty-one sitting days in accordance with Article 11 (7) of the Constitution and become law to enable the EC go ahead with the voter registration exercise based on provisions of the C.I.