Ghana Card won’t be used as voter ID in 2024 polls – EC

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Ec Chiar Jean Mensa
Ec Chiar Jean Mensa

The Ghana card will not be used as a voter ID in the 2024 polls, Electoral Commission Chairperson Jean Mensa has said.

She told parliament on Tuesday, 29 February 2023 that the card will only be used as the sole source document for voter registration so as to make the voter roll cleaner and more credible.

She said: “The use of only Ghana Card will ensure and guarantee the credibility of the register and elections, prevent enrolment of minors, prevent foreigners from voting, eliminate the guarantor system which is prone to abuse.”

She then clarified: “Mr Speaker, I wish to emphasise that the Ghana Card will not be used to vote in the 2024 elections”.

“The Ghana Card is only a requirement to register as a voter,” she explained.

Mrs Mensa noted: “Once you present your Ghana Card and successfully register as a voter, you will be issued with a voter identification card which bears the code of your region, district, electoral area and the name of your polling station; the Ghana Card does not have these features and, therefore, will not be used to vote in the 2024 general elections.”

“We do not intend to disenfranchise persons who qualify to vote”.

“It is in our interest to register them. It is will be an antithesis to deny any Ghanaian the right to vote,” she pointed out.

“However”, she indicated, “We equally have the responsibility to ensure that only qualified Ghanaians are found in the voters’ register”.

“We owe this responsibility to Ghanaians and we will work to uphold that.”

In August 2022, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia hinted at the likelihood of using the Ghana Card for voter registration for either the 2024 or 2028 general elections.

Dr Bawumia promised Ghanaians at the 2022 Civil Service Awards ceremony in Accra on 29 July 2022 that with the Ghana Card and digitalisation drive, “very soon, you’d see that our problems with voter registration would disappear”.

“It’s only a matter of time. If not at the next election [2024] then the next election [2028] after that because we spend so much on voter registration but once unique identification is determined and you cannot have underage people coming to register to vote and all of that, I think the Ghana card would be a good identification document as we are already seeing so that we sanitise the voter registration system”, Dr Bawumia said.

He noted: “In many countries, once you are 18, you are essentially on the voter register and that is it”.

“There’s no complication to this and going to fight and break legs and so on, as we register to vote”, he noted.

“I mean the system is the system”, added Dr Bawumia, stressing: “If you are 18, you are on the register – simple!”

“And, I think this is where we are headed”, he hinted.

In his view, Ghana has been stuck in the brick-and-mortar model of development, which, in his estimation, has not generated the needed transformation.

Systems, as being put in place by the Akufo-Addo government through the digitalisation drive, are what will transform the country, Dr Bawumia argued, in support of his earlier assertion that he would prefer the Ghana Card – which, he observed, is the fulcrum of the establishment of those systems – to 1,000 interchanges.

“A lot of the time, we have, as a country, really focused on brick and mortar for development: build this road, you build this and build that but we have not focused on systems for the longest time but systems and data and institutions are what develop countries, it’s not brick and mortar”, he explained.

“So, these systems that we are putting in place – digitalisation of the various public sector offices and all of that: national ID, mobile money and all of that – is what will transform Ghana; it’s really what will transform Ghana and that is why as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we have to pay attention to this”.

The Ghana Card is a valid verification document issued by the National Identification Authority (NIA) to Ghanaians and resident foreign nationals living everywhere for the purpose of identification.

The card bears personal information about the individuals whose identity can be verified at all times. The NIA National Identity System utilises three types of biometric technology for identification purposes.

These are the fingerprints unique to each individual in the form of digitised templates, and facial templates in the form of a digitised colour photo of the cardholder and the iris.

The card contains basic identification information including a photograph of the cardholder, along with a name, date of birth, height, and a personal identification number that has been randomly generated and assigned to the holder and has an expiry date.

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