The University Students’ Association of Ghana (USAG) has entreated the Electoral Commission, Ghana (EC) to extend deadline of the ongoing limited voter registration at campuses.
The nationwide registration exercise is scheduled to end on Sunday, May 8 after entering its second phase on Wednesday, May 4.
But the students claim about 100,000 risk being disenfranchised as a result of the EC failing “to provide registration centres on some campuses or chosen to not provide adequate registration kits on campus to facilitate the process”.
This was contained in statement issued on Tuesday, May 3.
“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,” the statement said.
Read 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:
1. Extend the days for the limited voter registration exercise on our campuses across the country and;
2. 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.