Voter registration takes off smoothly … but with social distancing, mask wearing concerns

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The compilation of a new voter’s register by the Electoral Commission (EC) commenced yesterday across all the districts in the country.

The exercise, expected to last for 38 days, is projected to capture the biometric data of about 17 million Ghanaians eligible to vote.

For the first time, the exercise which is being held in clusters would be followed with a three-day mop-up to enable all persons who could not partake in the current one to register.

Explaining the cluster system, Director of Electoral Services, EC, Dr Serebour Quaicoe said five registration centres would make a cluster.

“So assuming you have 50 polling stations, you divide the 50 by five, so that you have 10 clusters. Each cluster will form one registration team and each team will be made up of two registration officers, two data entry clerks, one registration officer special duties, he will be in charge of commuting between the team and the district office as well as exporting data and the rest, then we will have the laminator.

The registration officers will go to the first phase of the five polling station centre in that cluster. So when they go to the first cluster, they will be there for six days, and when they are there for six days, on the 7th day, they will rest and then they will move to the next registration centre in the second phase for another six days and one day to retool and then they will go to the third phase,” he stated.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the registration exercise was to be done under strict adherence to the safety protocols announced by the Ghana Health Service to prevent spread of the disease.

However, Benedicta Gyimaah Folley reports from the Accra Metropolis that social distancing and mask wearing protocols were flouted by several Ghanaians who queued at various registration centres to register.

At Kotobabi 3A and B Girls School, and Ghana County Preparatory School 1 and 2, some others who reported at the centre as early as 4:00am, expressed anger due to the late start of the exercise.

Some others faulted the EC for poor sensitisation on the use of the cluster process and urged the Commission to provide more clarity on the process.

Godfred Blay Gibbah reports from Tema that several people from Community 4 in the Tema Central Constituency who thronged the Republic Road Primary school in the early hours of yesterday to register ignored the social distancing regulations although they wore masks.

The Assembly Member for the Republic Road Electoral Area, Erasmus Quao, desirous to correct the anomaly suggested that four residential lanes F, G, H and I take their turn on the first day while other batches follow the subsequent days but his advice was ignored.

Godwin Amenutsua- Vondee, Registration Officer for Centre ‘B’ said registration started at 7:40 a.m. because they had a challenge with the biometric capturing device’s battery initially and had to connect the machine to the school’s electricity supply.

However Centre ‘A’ commenced registration at 7:00am. Both centres had registered 59 people as at 12 noon.

At the Twedaase Junior High School registration centre in the Tema East Constituency, the Registration Officer, Kenneth Konadu, said 30 people had been registered as at 1:00 pm. There were about 60 people in the queue.

He said their only challenge was that the biometric capturing machine was slow during back up. The EC provided sanitisers, soap and running water in Veronica buckets for registrants to sanitise their hands.

Policemen were on hand to provide security at all centres.

Clement Adzei Boye reports from Sekondi-Takoradi that the exercise began in earnest in the Sekondi -Takoradi metropolis and Effia -Kwesimintsim municipality as eligible voters showed keen interest in the exercise.

Generally, security of the exercise was good as routine police patrols provided a smooth atmosphere for a successful take-off on day one of phase one.

The equipment also worked effectively at the time of the monitoring.

As early as 6.30 am, most registration centres had begun setting up their booths ahead of the exercise which, was slated for 7a.m. each day.

When the Ghanaian Times visited some centres in Effiakuma and Takoradi, processes were peaceful and orderly. One key observation was that the usual scrambling for space by applicants during such exercise was absent and there were security tapes to barricade centres against any breaches.

Eligible voters also showed great comportment, and, therefore, EC officials had less hassle to do their work.

At the Resurrection Baptist Church centre (A&B), where the exercise  started  at exactly 7am,the Ghanaian Times  noted that, as at 8.55am,20 people had been registered  while about 200  were also  in a queue  waiting for their  turns.

Officials spoke about order and good security, stressing that “we have not encountered much problems and our machines are working well.”

At the Methodist Senior High School at Sekondi, about 25 people had been registered as at 10:26 a.m.

Officers also told the Ghanaian Times that the processes had been smooth, adding that registrants had been disciplined.

The exercise at Well Road Primary School also witnessed similar peaceful processes.

Meanwhile, reports monitored at Butre in the Ahanta West District indicated that the processes were calm.

From Tamale, Yakubu Abdul-Majeed reports that there were no Veronica buckets in some of the registration centres in the Tamale metropolis and parts of Sangnarigu municipality in the Northern Region.

There was no thermometer gun at the Bishop Choggu registration centre when the Ghanaian Times reporter visited there at 7:45am.

At about 7:10am there was no water in the Veronica bucket stationed at the Kalpohini Anglican registration centre.

At Kumbungu and St Paul, the cameras there developed a fault from 8-10am.

However, the Northern Regional Director of EC, Mr Lucas Yiriyel assured that all initial problems or challenges identified would be rectified as soon as possible.

He stated that already an officer was immediately tasked to dispatch Veronica buckets to the centres which had none, as soon as his attention was drawn to it.

Mr Yiriyel indicated that all the necessary measures have been put in place to ensure a smooth exercise.

There were long queues at all the centres at Tamale, Sangnarigu, Savelugu, Kumbungu and Tolon districts.

As early as 5am yesterday, a long queue was seen at the Kalpohini Anglican registration centre.

There was also total disregard of COVID-19 safety protocols as people did not avert their minds to social distancing, only a handful were seen in nose masks. 

At Bishop’s RC in Choggu in the Tamale North Constituency 30 persons had been registered and issued with IDs as at 7am.

Political party representatives were also seen at all the registration centres visited on day one of the exercise.

FROM HO, ALBERTO MARIO NORETTI reports that the voter registration exercise began in Ho yesterday with zeal and enthusiasm with eligible persons turning up at the various centres well before 7am.

At the Ho Heve E. P. Primary School, for instance, Mr Frank Tupra, a registration officer said that the exercise took off without any hitch.

“We were ready even before the stipulated 7am,” he added. As at 8:55am, more than 11 people had gone through the registration procedures.

The exercise was in progress with strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols.

The MP for Ho Central, Benjamin K. Kpodo who was present, described the turn out as encouraging.

At the District Education Office Ho 2 centre, the process was equally smooth.

“We have not had any untoward incident here,” said Ms Josephine Emefa Yawa Dente, Registration Officer. She said that the people had turned up at the centre as early as 6am.

About 20 people had registered as at 9.15 am. Meanwhile, at the GBC Revenue Office, the exercise started at 7am prompt.

As at 10:56 am, 36 people had registered, according to Mr George Nyadroh, a registration officer.

Daniel Dzirasah, reports from Sunyani that delays in printing ID cards and long widening queues characterised most of the registration centres in the Bono Region on the first day of the exercise.

The delay was attributed to poor network coupled with the fact that there was only one machine attending to the huge numbers who had come to be registered.

The centres visited included the Roman Catholic Primary School and Methodist JHS at Awuah-Domase in the Sunyani West Municipality as well as Tonsuom Estate and Victoria Park (Area One) in the Sunyani Municipality.

The registration officer at the Methodist JHS-Awuah-Domase, Danso Ernest, told the Ghanaian Times that the exercise started smoothly except the slow pace of printing the registration cards. He was however hopeful that the machine would improve as the day goes by.

Also, it was observed that the registration centre as at the time of our visit was crowded, with people not observing the COVID-19 safety protocols.

At the Tonsuom Estate electoral area, registration officer, Victor Adjei Nyamekye, said they were not facing any challenges as all registration materials and equipment had been provided.

He said although the security officer in charge of the place was yet to report as at 8:37am there was no cause for alarm.

From Koforidua, Ama Tekyiwaa Ampadu Agyeman reports that the exercise began at about 8am in Koforidua and other parts of the Eastern Region with several people thronging the registration centres.

When the Times visited the Mile 50 M.A. Basic School and JHS registration centre in the New Juaben South Constituency, 16 people had registered as at 9:50am.

It took six to 10 minutes for a person to finish the process. Also, at the Mile 50 primary 2 centre, 24 people have registered as at 10:10am. 

In the New Juaben North Constituency, the registration took place at the Effiduase MTTU and Police Station 1 centre; 20 and 16 people had registered respectively at the centres as at 9am.

All the centres observed the safety protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

Thermometer guns were available to check the temperatures of people who thronged the place to register. Veronica buckets were also placed at vantage points to encourage proper hand washing.

David O. Yarboi-Tetteh, reports from Cape Coast that there were queues at the registration centres as eligible voters anxiously waited for their turn to register.

At the Ayikooayikoo Mosque registration centre, a total of 28 people had registered as of 8:52 am when the Ghanaian Times arrived at the venue.

The Registration Officer, David Dawson-Amoah said, the exercise started at exactly 7 a.m.

He explained that, there had not been any challenges as the exercise was proceeding smoothly.

At the Wiseway registration centre, 10 people had gone through the process as of 8:55 a.m. At the Ashanti Road centre, 12 people had registered as of 9:00am.

The Registration Officer, Cynthia Ato-Davis explained that, most of the people who came to register spent much time due to their delay in presenting personal information required as part of the process.

At the Brofoyedur Post Office park, 26 persons had registered as at 9:15 am while 18 persons had registered at the Brofoyedur Community Centre as at 10:25 am.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

Source: ghanaiantimes