As the Electoral Commission Tuesday started the compilation of a new voters register for the 2020 General Election applicants were determined to be early birds, leading to long queues being formed at many registration centres ahead of the official start at 0700 hours.
They included 84-year-old Madam Victoria Akutey, a resident of the Osu Klottey Electoral Area, whose agility and readiness with the relevant documentation and information, earned her a record of completing the process in eight minutes, the fastest yet at the Saint Barnabas Anglican Primary School Registration Centre, one of the 33,367 across the nation.
The Electoral Commission aims at registering some 16 million eligible Ghanaians in the 38-day-exercise.
At 0900 hours, Madam Akutey, who was made to jump the queue as a Senior Citizen, became the 21st person to receive her card at the centre.
She told the Ghana News Express in an interview that she was keen to vote in the December General Election as she enjoyed honouring her civic responsibilities.
“The process was not difficult for me to go through. I followed all the safety protocols and I am very happy I have my card now,” she added.
Just as was required to quicken the process, Madam Akutey readily provided her Ghana Card and the relevant information, including the accurate spelling of her name, date of birth, residential address, her parents’ names, and hometown.
Mr Evans Acquah, the Electoral Officer at the Centre told this portal that: “Although we had some challenges with the set up initially, it is now okay and the queue is moving at a faster pace. With an average of 10 minutes, we are hopeful to meet our target.”
The smooth start at many registration centres, however, eluded the Ashiedu Keteke Sub Metro in the Odododiodoo Constituency, where applicants were seen in queues at 0800 hours still waiting for the process to start.
Mr Alfred Anetia, an aspirant Member of Parliament for the Progressive People’s Party in the Odododiodoo Constituency, claimed that the District Office of the EC did not want to use the gazetted list published by the Commission.
“At the district IPAC meeting yesterday, there was disagreement and I cautioned them that we have to decide but it did not happen like that,” he said.
Mr Anetia, however, urged all applicants to exercise patience as the political parties tried to address the problem to enable them to register.
However, Mr George Kwame Amoah, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the EC explained in a telephone interview that the delay was over a disagreement among the political parties on the approved list to use.
But the EC, was ready to conduct the exercise, he said.
The Electoral Commission said it had recruited, trained and deployed more than 44,000 temporary officials into the field for the voters registration exercise.
When the Ghana News Express arrived at the St. Luke’s Catholic Church Centre, Ashaiman Lebanon, at about 0600 hours, it observed that applicants were already in long queues. They were, consequently, given numbers and allowed to enter the premise in batches of 100, while observing social distancing, hand sanitizing and wearing of face masks protocols.
Mr Noah Edudzi, Registration Officer said with the keen interest exhibited so far, he was optimistic the exercise would be successful.
Some applicants, he said, started booking their places in the queue as early as 2300 hours on Monday.
The officers, he said, were determined to register all eligible applicants during the six days that they would spend at each of the five clusters in the Constituency.
Mr Richard Setsoafia, a resident of Lebanon Zone 3, said he arrived as early as 0115 hours to be ahead in the queue because he yearned to have a card.
Mr Frank Damesi, the first to go through the process at the centre, however, said he wanted to be the first in order to avoid any form of delays that might arise later.
Officers from the Ghana Police Service were present to ensure security, while and medical officials were seen at the centre to take temperatures, attend to any emergency and to enforce COVID-19 protocols. Jean Mensa, the Electoral Commissioner told journalists on Monday that that the Commission had procured and disseminated electoral materials including forms, laminates, indelible ink, toner cartridges, and thumb-print pads already to the field.
For the first time, the Commission had procured other items termed COVID-19 items and deployed these to the field.
A total of 8000 Biometric Voter Registration Kits and 5000 technicians had been deployed into the field.
“The kits have been thoroughly tested and we are confident that they will function effectively and ensure the smooth and speedy registration of each applicant,” she said.
“We envisage that with the robustness of the kits as well as the extreme training offered, each applicant should not spend more than ten minutes in going through the registration exercise”.