On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, the mass voters registration exercise for the December 7, 2020 general election took off throughout the country.
It is estimated that about 16 million Ghanaians are eligible to take part in the 38-day exercise.
Even though a lot of people had raised concerns about the exercise due to the increase in the infection rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the enthusiasm among Ghanaians has so far been remarkable.
On the first day of the exercise, some people who went to the registration centres very early used stones to form long queues in a bid to secure their places before going back home to prepare and return later to go through the process.
While we applaud Ghanaians for exhibiting their readiness for the exercise to be able to exercise their franchise in this year’s elections, The Mirror, however, is deeply concerned about the safety of people.
It is important to put on record that as of Thursday, July 9, 2020, Ghana had recorded 23,463 cases of the COVID-19 across the 16 regions of the country. In all, 18,622 people had been treated and discharged.
Even though some people think the number of active cases is not many, compared to other countries, there is still cause for concern and worry, since we are not out of the woods yet.
The Ghana Medical Association and some medical practitioners have called for the immediate suspension of the registration exercise because the case count is increasing by the day, partly because many people refuse to observe the safety precautions, especially at the registration centres.
In a lot of instances, registrants ignore the wearing of nose masks and keeping the one-metre distance from one another, despite the EC saying it had issued chits to address some of those challenges.
Some of the centres too do not have hand-washing materials, making it difficult for people to observe the regular hand-washing protocol before and after going through the exercise.
The Mirror is even worried about reports of students who are perceived to be 18 years being carried from their schools to the registration centres to register.
We are of the firm belief that in as much as it is important for citizens to register to be able to cast their ballots on December 7, we must also be cautious of how we go about it, as we are not in “normal times”.
In this day and age of technology, one would have thought that the EC would be innovative enough to introduce an online registration portal to enable people fill out all the necessary information, and later go to some designated centres for their passport pictures to be taken for the ID cards. After all, this is being implemented in some sectors, including the Passport Office.
The Mirror calls on all stakeholders to join the educational drive to drum home the need for people to observe all the safety protocols. There is the need for everyone to take his or her safety into his or her own hands. At least, try as much as possible to carry nose masks and hand sanitiser on you at all times.
As much as possible, quickly leave the registration centre after you are done with the exercise.
At this point, it is impossible to stop the EC from the exercise, so the responsibility lies on every individual to ensure his or her safety at all times.
Do remember that without proper and sound health, there is nothing like work or a voters register.
Staying alive to vote is better than being in the grave, and that should be our priority.