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Supreme Court dismisses use of old voter ID cards

The Supreme Court has in a unanimous decision excluded the use of the existing voter identification card as proof of eligibility for a new one in the upcoming voter registration exercise.

While agreeing with the National Democratic Congress, the plaintiff, that rights accrued to persons who hold the existing voter ID, the supreme court however, made it emphatically clear that “they must make themselves available and comply with Constitutional Instrument (CI 126)”, which requires applicants to use only the Ghanaian passport, the Ghana card or get two registered voters to vouch for their eligibility to acquire a new voter ID.

After a much-debated stance, the Supreme Court has cleared the way for the Electoral Commission to continue with its intended voter registration exercise, which the NDC and a private citizen, Mark Takyi-Banson challenged.

A seven-member panel presided over by Chief Justice, Anin Yeboah, issued the judgement ahead of the June 30 voter registration exercise.

The court, however, granted the NDC two reliefs.

Granted reliefs
b. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, specifically article 51 read conjointly with article 42 of the Constitution, the power of the 2nd Defendant to compile and review the voters’ register must be exercised subject to respect for and the protection of the right to vote;

c. A declaration that, upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, particularly article 42, upon the registration of and issuance of a voter identification card to a person, that person has an accrued right to vote which cannot be divested in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

However, a number reliefs both parties were seeking have been dismissed

d. A declaration that, upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, particularly Article 42 of the Constitution, all existing voter identification cards duly issued by the 2nd Defendant to registered voters are valid for purposes of identifying such persons in the exercise of their right to vote;

e. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, specifically Article 42, the 2nd Defendant’s purported amendment of Regulation 1 sub-regulation 3 of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (C.I 91) through the Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020 to exclude existing voter identification cards as proof of identification to enable a person to apply for registration as a voter is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever;

f. A declaration that the 2nd Defendant, in purporting to exercise its powers pursuant to article 51 of the 1992 Constitution to exclude the existing voter identification cards from the documents required as of identification to enable a person register as a voter without any legal basis or justification is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.

g. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution specifically Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, proof of identification for registration as a voter should not be limited by the provisions of Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020.

h. An order directed at the 2nd Defendant to include all existing voter identification cards duly issued by the 2nd Defendant as one of the documents serving as proof of identification for registration as a voter for the purposes of public elections.

The court gave the EC directed the EC to go ahead with the registration subject to the use of CI 126, which will govern election 2020.

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