Ahead of the mass voter registration exercise for the 2020 general election, the Electoral Commission (EC) on Tuesday started a nationwide training exercise for 42,025 registration officials to equip them with the requisite skills and knowledge desired for the exercise.
The EC’s regional directors and their deputies, as well as regional supervisors, deputy registration supervisors, district electoral officers and assistant electoral officers, are to benefit from the exercise, which involves training for data entry clerks, laminators and those to be directly involved in the use of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits at the grass roots.
The officials will also be taken through the registration procedure, which will cover eligibility criteria, challenge procedures and the vouching process.
The Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations at the EC, Mr Samuel Tettey, told the Daily Graphic in Accra that the training exercises should be completed by the third week of this month, in readiness for the commencement of the mass voter registration.
Asked if political party representatives would also be trained, he said the EC did not have enough budgetary support to add political parties to the training exercise.
He, however, said if any political party needed the services of the EC, “we will make our training team available to that party”.
The EC will also conduct a two-day pilot registration exercise at all its regional offices today and tomorrow to test the BVR kits, assess the protocols put in place, among other things.
Besides, it will later announce a date for a national pilot registration exercise at its head office in Accra.
Representatives of political parties will be expected to be in attendance to observe the processes.
Mr Tettey said all the officials would be briefed on the rules and regulations guiding the registration exercise and the enforcement of measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19.
He said the EC was leaving no stone unturned to ensure a successful registration exercise and the conduct of peaceful, transparent, free and fair elections on December 7, 2020.
Mr Tettey said the EC had procured appropriate personal protective equipment for all registration officials to protect them and all registrants.
At the registration centres, he said, there would be the compulsory wearing of nose masks by officials, registrants, party agents and security officials.
Furthermore, he said, the temperature of registrants would be taken, while all other measures, including the washing of hands with soap under running water, cleaning the registration gadgets with sanitisers, among others, would be strictly observed.
To ensure that the one-metre distance rule was observed, he said, the EC would mark the points with white paint to create adequate spacing to enforce the physical distancing protocol.
He appealed for support and cooperation from all stakeholders, so that the exercise could take place peacefully and gave an assurance that everything would be done to capture all eligible voters, so that nobody would be disenfranchised.
At an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting in Accra last Wednesday to discuss the compilation of a new voters register, the EC informed the participants that it had slated the registration exercise to begin from the last week of June to the end of July 2020.
It said the exercise, which would start from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, would take place at all the 33,367 polling stations, which will serve as registration centres, nationwide.
According to the EC, it would adopt the cluster system of registration during the upcoming exercise.
“It will be done simultaneously in all the districts/constituencies nationwide, with each cluster consisting of five registration centres.
“In all, there will be five phases during the registration period, with each registration team working for a period of six days in each phase within the cluster.
“However, a day is set aside to assemble and prepare the materials for the next phase,” it explained.
The EC said information on the movement plan of the registration teams would be communicated to all stakeholders.
To qualify for registration, it said, an applicant must be a Ghanaian citizen, 18 years or older, of sound mind, resident or ordinarily resident in an electoral area and not prohibited by any law in force from registering as a voter.
It said all eligible voters would be given instant voter ID cards when they registered, except in cases where applications had been challenged.