No overseas voting for 2020 elections due to COVID-19 – EC Source

ACCRA – DNT News. In spite of feverish arrangements by the Electoral Commission to implement ROPAA and secure votes from Ghanaians on official assignment overseas, it appears the 2020 elections will be decided only by voters inside Ghana, sources from the EC said Friday evening. And the uncertainty surrounding border closures is to blame for this.

All is set for the EC to begin registering voters in the new register by the end of June, the source said. And as per normal practice, registration for voters currently serving on official capacity overseas would also begin. However, by the targeted late June commencement of the registration process, not all borders would be open, leaving the EC no choice than to abandon voters domiciled outside Ghana.

Registration to vote has taken on a whole new meaning because the old register is completely null and void, which means one cannot count on previous registry to vote in the 2020 elections. Basically, the source said where you register in this new registration campaign is where your vote would be domiciled moving forward because previous voter registration is null and void with the advent of the new register.

That means Ghanaians serving in official capacity overseas cannot also count on their previous registration to vote this December. And if those who have been registering to vote overseas in an existing system cannot be registered, then potential ROPAA voters are completely out of the question.

The EC has submitted the Constitutional Instrument (CI) for ROPAA to parliament where it becomes law after 21 sitting days of non-interference by the legislative body. DNT consulted the Speaker of Parliament for his take on the CI last week and received assurance that no attempt thus far had been made by any member to obstruct the progress of the CI

Thus, if COVID-19 had not disrupted the normal flow of global travel, ROPAA would have been implemented in the 2020 elections. But Dr. Kofi Boateng, Chairman of the Progressive Alliance Movement disagrees saying “COVID-19 cannot kill human rights.”

In a statement in response to the news of the ROPAA abandonment for the 2020 elections, Dr. Boateng called for “creativity o explore different modes of voting,” His statement further said: “National elections the world over that are slated for late 2020 are all in indeterminate statuses. Ghana is no exception.”

Here is his full statement:

“National elections the world over that are slated for late 2020 are all in indeterminate statuses. Ghana is no exception. The numbers who will vote and the manners of voting are all not known. Fear of sickness from personal contact is not fear of voting. The antidote is creativity to explore different modes of voting. A creative alternative will actually help the coverage of ROPAA implementation. COVID19 has dealt blows to many things but it has knocked out ROPAA 2020, unless it has done so for Ghana’s election 2020.

What needs to be done immediately is for Ghana’s Attorney General to rush the draft Constitutional Instrument to Parliament, or at least shine light on it to start the creativity juices flowing. Time is of the essence for all. COVID19 cannot kill human rights.”

It is not immediately known how Ghanaian diplomats across the globe would take this news of their non-participation in the 2020 elections. While some countries may have opened their borders by late June, others would still have closed borders. And the EC is saying it cannot register some and leave the others.

The key here is the registration process. If the EC was using the old register, then those diplomats and others on official assignment would already be captured and would therefore not need to register again. The new voters’ register has changed all that.

DNT News