University Students Being Disenfranchised – USAG Tells EC

The University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) has accused the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana for disenfranchising students eligible to vote with their handling of the limited voters registration exercise on university campuses nationwide.

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Charlotte Osei - Ghana's Electoral Commissioner (EC)
Charlotte Osei - Ghana's Electoral Commissioner (EC)

USAG is in a statement, appealing to the EC to extend the number days for the registration exercise on university campuses nationwide to avert what they call “a tragedy against our democracy.”

Charlotte Osei - Ghana's Electoral Commissioner (EC)
Charlotte Osei – Ghana’s Electoral Commissioner (EC)

According to them, EC’s decision to allow few centers on the various university campuses is creating problems for students leading to their inability to register.

The Commission set a 10-day period for this limited registration exercise which is set to end on Sunday May 8, but a statement released by USAG indicates that less that 10 percent of eligible student voters have been able to register.

USAG said, “We are already half way through the exercise and per our calculations, less than 10 percent of the estimated number of young Ghanaian students eligible to vote have been able to so far register” saying that the continuation of the status quo would mean the EC was effectively disenfranchising the majority of young Ghanaian students who have come of age to vote.

“If this trend continues, we are afraid it will amount effectively to an administrative decision taken by the EC that has only led to disenfranchising the majority of young Ghanaian students who have come of age to vote. This would be a tragedy against our democracy,” USAG stated in their release.

 

Read USAG’s Full Statement Below:

STATEMENT FROM THE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION OF GHANA (USAG) TO THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION (EC) OF GHANA

USAG CONCERNED ABOUT EFFECTIVE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF GHANAIAN STUDENTS BY EC

We write to register our concerns over the ongoing limited registration exercise which we are afraid is not designed to encourage or allow eligible Ghanaians who are students to register to vote in 2016.
The Commission has set a 10-day period for this limited registration exercise, starting from April 28 to May 8. We are already half way through the exercise and per our calculations, less than 10 percent of the estimated number of young Ghanaian students eligible to vote has been able to so far register. If this trend continues, we are afraid it will amount effectively to an administrative decision taken by the EC that has only led to disenfranchising the majority of young Ghanaian students who have come of age to vote. This would be a tragedy against our democracy.
Currently, over 100,000 Ghanaian students across campuses up and down the country are facing challenges just trying to register. This is because the EC has either failed to provide registration centres on some campuses or chosen to not provide adequate registration kits on campus to facilitate the process.
We have had instances where students have had to queue for days without success, whiles having to respond to the natural pressures of revising for exams.

For instance, the University of Ghana, Legon, has about 28,000 students on campus and most of them are in the qualifying category to register. However the whole Legon Campus community has only one registration center.

The Mampong campus of the University of Education has no registration centre on campus. The students have access to a centre inconveniently situated outside of the campus.

Also, the highly populated Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology has not a single registration centre on campus. Students wanting to register have to trek outside of campus to do so.
Indeed, there is not a single tertiary institution in Ghana which has not been inconvenienced by the way the EC has chosen to conduct this exercise. Indeed, students are even compelled by the circumstances to conclude that it appears the EC has deliberately done things in this way to discourage them from registering to vote.

This perception is very unfortunate and needless. It was avoidable because the EC knows from experience and from its own expectation to register 1.2 million people that the highest concentration of the targeted group for the limited registration exercise are to be found on campuses across the country. So in deciding to distribute 3,500 registration kits across the country it ought to have positively discriminated in favour of students and deployed more than the usual number to campuses.
In this regard we entreat the EC to as a matter of urgency:

Extend the days for the limited voter registration exercise on our campuses across the country and
Increase the number of registration kits available on campuses to facilitate speedy and smooth process.
This we believe will make the limited voter registration exercise meaningful and inclusive to achieve the goal of enfranchising new eligible voters. The EC cannot claim to be registering Ghanaians who have come of age when at the same time it has put together a process that effectively prevents people from registering or frustrates their efforts to so do. This is most odd, indeed.

It is our expectation that the Commission will treat this matter with the urgency, efficiency and professionalism it deserves. Ghanaian students have a constitutional duty and right to play their full part in determining how our nation is governed. To take this away is to effectively cause a coup against our collective constitutional right and duty.

Signed: Henry Nkosuo Boakye, USAG President

Source: Newsghana.com.gh

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