New register: EC presents legal basis for rejecting old voters’ ID to Supreme Court

The Electoral Commission (EC) has filed a document in court to explain why it is excluding the use of the old voters’ ID from the list of identification documents for the new voters’ register.

In a 31-page document presented to the Supreme Court, the Electoral Commission among other things argued that it is an independent body and has the constitutional responsibility of determining how any registration exercise will be conducted.

It further said that it had duly presented before Parliament the Constitutional Instrument on the compilation of the new register which does not include the use of the old voters’ ID.

“[The EC has the] sole exclusive constitutional responsibility to compile a voters register and to determine how that compilation will be affected and it is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or body.”

“The second legal basis is that, in exercising its exclusive constitutional duty, the 2nd Defendant [EC] has placed before Parliament a Constitutional Instrument that does not include the use of the existing or old voters ID Cards, exercising its constitutional discretion to do so,” the EC stated in its explanation.”

In further justifying its decision, the EC said the process used in acquiring the old voter’s ID was in breach of the law hence can’t be used for compiling a new register.

It went on to describe the card as a product of a “poisoned tree,” which makes it improper for the new exercise adding that, it will be a breach of Article 42 of the constitution if the court goes against its own judgment to continue the use of the current voter’s ID.

It cited the court’s judgement in the Abu Ramadan case, where it among other things indicated that the use of the National Health Insurance Card to register a voter is inconsistent with Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution and is therefore void.

Read the summary of the EC’s points below:

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) sued the Electoral Commission over attempts by the electoral management body to compile a new voters’ register ahead of the 2020 general elections.

The NDC argues in its suit that the EC lacks the power to go ahead with its plans because it can only “compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law”.

According to the writ invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the opposition NDC among other things demanded for a “declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, 2nd Defendant [the EC] has the constitutional power to, and can, compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law. Accordingly, 2nd Defendant can only revise the existing register of voters, and lacks the power to prepare a fresh register of voters, for the conduct of the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.”

The NDC in its case is also praying the court to declare as illegal the decision of the EC not to use the old voter ID cards as registration proof in the compilation of the new register.

The NDC claimed that the decision which is without any justification is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.


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