A Ghanaian based in Daboya in the Savannah Region has dragged the Electoral Commission (EC) to the Supreme Court over its decision to allow online registration in the limited registration exercise.

The plaintiff, Umar Ayuba, says the decision has not been provided for in law.

He is also arguing that the EC’s decision on online registration is discriminatory to first-time voters and rural people.

A former Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Dr Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, is representing the plaintiff.

The suit, filed at the Registry of the Supreme Court in Accra yesterday, has the Attorney-General as the first defendant.

Reliefs

Ayuba, who is invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, is seeking a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 45 (a), 45(e) and 42 of the 1992 Constitution, the decision of the EC to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the district offices of the EC, instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas, will result in voter suppression, as was evident from the same exercise carried out in 2018, particularly in rural constituencies of the country, and is thus unconstitutional, as it violates the right of first-time voters to register and vote.

He is also seeking another declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) and (e) of the Constitution, the decision of the EC to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at its district offices, instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas, is inconsistent with and in contravention of the mandate of the EC, as contained in Article 45 (a) and (e) of the 1992 Constitution and Regulation 2 Sub-regulation (2)(a) and (b) of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (CI 91).

The plaintiff wants the court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 42, 45(a), 45 (e) and 17 of the 1992 Constitution, the decision of the EC to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at its district offices, instead of places designated by law, is unwarranted and a disproportionate burden on first-time voters, especially in rural constituencies such as Daboya-Mankarigu.

“The decision is thus discriminatory and a violation of the right of first-time rural voters to be granted equal opportunity to register to vote under articles 42 and 17 of the Constitution,” the relief is seeking the court to declare.

He further wants the apex court to hold that the EC’s decision is unreasonable and an arbitrary exercise of its discretionary power in relation to voter registration.

The plaintiff wants the court to order the EC to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration exercise in the manner prescribed by law in order to avoid altogether or minimise the suppression of votes, particularly in the rural constituencies of the country.

Ayuba is also praying the court to order the EC and its agents to desist from destroying any and all documents and records relating to the 2018 limited voter registration exercise the EC conducted until the final determination of this suit.

Statement of case

The statement of case accompanying the writ indicated that the EC did not undertake any voter registration exercise in 2017 but its 2018 budget estimates presented to the Special Budget Committee of Parliament projected to register about 1,200,000 voters, using electoral area-based registration model, due to the fact that in 2017 the EC was unable to undertake any voter registration exercise.

It said the EC, upon the approval of its budget by Parliament, “instead of registering eligible voters across the country, as it has always done based on electoral areas, adopted a district-based online registration model, using only the Voter Management Systems (VMS) at its district offices”.

It said the exercise was also limited to only the 47 districts where the 2018 referendum took place.

According to the statement of claim, the EC, by that approach, excluded eligible voters in the remaining 184 districts who did not take part in the 2018 referendum from the limited voter registration exercise.

Averting the court’s mind to its earlier decisions, the plaintiff said any attempt by the EC to undertake the limited registration exercise in a manner that would suppress the right of first-time voters to be registered must not escape the supervision and control of the court.

Highlight

Umar Ayuba, a resident of Daboya in the Savannah Region, is invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to declare that upon a true and proper interpretation of articles 45 (a), 45(e) and 42 of the 1992 Constitution, the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) to undertake the 2019 limited voter registration online at the district offices of the EC, instead of undertaking same on the basis of electoral areas, will result in voter suppression, particularly in rural constituencies of the country.

To that effect, the court should declare the EC’s upcoming exercise as unconstitutional, as it violates the right of first time voters to register and vote.



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