The Right To Vote And The Electoral Commission Measures Against Covid-19 In The Upcoming General Elections
The global Covid-19 pandemic is still ragging and the general elections in Ghana are also fast approaching. The pandemic continue to cause havoc in Ghana and our government seem to have completely folded its arms in the fight. Not until a week ago that the President of Ghana in his usual rhetoric of words said all Ghanaians should continue to wear mask and observe the protocols against the wide spread virus, there was total desertion of the wearing of mask and observing the protocols by majority of Ghanaians. Of course the lack of any strategic plan by the government to fighting the pandemic, the no testing in our laboratories, the political massaging of the numbers and the failure of contact tracing as the Centre have pointed out on several occasions became apparent with the complete breakdown of what was said to be a fight against the virus in Ghana by the government.
The general elections in Ghana is just a few days away and Covid-19 spread in Ghana is increasing again and there is the need to know what measures are in place by the Electoral Commission to enable all eligible voters exercise this constitutional right to vote. The Constitution, 1992 in article 42 provides that every Ghanaian of eighteen years of age and above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered for purposes public elections. This implies therefore that an eligible voter is entitled to vote and a public body like the Electoral Commission should ensure every Ghanaian who is entitled to vote do so on the day of the elections. This constitutional right is subject to matters of public health interest like the covid-19 restrictions and protocols and the Centre very much appreciate this. The Centre is of the view that as long as the Electoral Commission continue to assure and put in place measures for the upcoming elections, the Commission has duty to every Ghanaian who is eligible to vote to make sure all necessary restrictions are put in place to enable him/her exercise this fundamental right.
However it doesn’t appear to the Centre that the Electoral Commission is committed to putting in place all the necessary measures for the public health interest of Ghanaians against the pandemic as well as guaranteeing the constitutional right to vote as provided in article 42 of the 1992 constitution. The Centre follows keenly the Electoral Commission press releases and briefings and its preparations, the measures it has put in place so far and is of the view that the Commission measures so far are not enough to guarantee the exercise of this right. This is because the Electoral Commission only indicated on several of its public engagement that hand washing equipment will be provided at every polling centre to enable all voters comply with the Covid-19 protocols in their quest to exercise their right to vote on election day. There is no where has the Electoral Commission mentioned of the face mask provision at the centres. So the Centre is asking and wants to know from the Commission the following:
a. Whether only the hand washing equipment is enough at the polling centres to guarantee an eligible voter to exercise this right amidst the increasing spread of Covid-19?
b. Will an eligible voter be stopped from exercising his fundamental right if he/she comes without a face mask?
The Centre is calling on the Electoral Commission to as a matter of necessity to procure face masks in addition to the protocols often mentioned. The Centre suggests that if not for all the over 16 million voters in the upcoming election at least for persons who will likely come to the polling station without a mask. This is a necessity to enabling an eligible voter exercise his/her right without any hindrance. This is a public duty the Commission must strive to live up to that. The sanity of the upcoming elections can be marred if this issue of face mask is not provided for at least for those who may come to the polling stations without a mask. Stalks are high on the upcoming elections and voters will not take it lightly if they are prevented from exercising their right to choose who leads them as President and members of parliament. The Commission should act