The Supreme Court of Ghana has directed the Electoral Commission to accept, as one of their registration requirements, the existing voter ID card. The ruling, delivered Thursday June 24, 2020 was a consequence of a suit filed by the National Democratic Congress challenging the constitutionality of the exclusion of the existing voter ID card from the list of requirements for the intended voter registration exercise.
The NDC contended in the relief 1 of their initial suit that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, the EC is legally permitted to compile a voters’ register only once and thereafter revise same as and when necessary, according to law. It was the contention of the NDC that this constitutional provision actually means that “the EC can compile the voters’ register only once, but can revise same as many times as possible according to law.”
The plaintiff (NDC) however stuck to their second relief, which is that the EC be directed by an order of the court to include, as proof of citizenship, the existing voter identification card for the registration exercise.
By granting the said relief to the applicant (NDC) the Supreme Court is, in essence, asking the EC to look beyond the Passport and National ID Card for proof of citizenship.
In a brief interaction with the media shortly after the ruling, the General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, said the ruling vindicate the long-held position of the party.
“We feel vindicated because the court itself, in an earlier ruling, indicated that if you have the existing voter ID card it means the holder is a citizen of Ghana who is qualified to register as a voter to exercise his/her franchise. And the court cannot go back on its own words, he said.
“It’s also worthy to note that the court also said that the right to vote, once it has been granted to a citizen, cannot be taken back in a whimsical and capricious manner,” he added.
The Supreme Court, on the other had, dismissed another suit challenging the legality of the EC’s decision to compile a new voter’s register on the basis of article 45(a) and ruled that the EC can indeed go ahead with the planned registration exercise.