The novelty to register prisoners across Ghana to enable them vote for the first time in the political history of the country has hit a dead-end.
Ghana Prisons Service officials are signaling to Citifmonline.com that the inability of the prison inmates to readily produce a form of national identity– a driver’s license, passport, or National Identification card – is making it impossible to carry on with the exercise.
Citifmonline.com checks also indicate that most of the inmates are using nicknames on official prison records hence the difficulties in ascertaining their true identity to ensure the smooth take off of the exercise.
The idea to allow prisoners to vote in the December 2012 elections came about after years of national debates by human rights campaigners coupled with a Supreme Court ruling backed by President John Evans Atta Mills. The president announced government’s intention to allow prisoners to vote during the commissioning of the new Nkroful Prisons last year.
Prison officials are telling Citifmonline.com that until the EC relaxes the registration rules or the inmates produce a valid identity, the prisoners’ joy to vote particularly in the presidential polls, will be short-lived because they are unable to meet the requisite requirement of the electoral body.
“What is emerging, however, is that most of our inmates do not have these ID cards,” the Public Relations Officer of the Prisons Service, ASP Courage Atsem, said.
“We are giving them [prisoners] time to get in touch with their family members to bring them their forms of national identity they have at home to use for the registration.
“If they are able to bring them in good time and that represents their true identity, they will be able to join the ongoing biometric registration exercise,” he said.
The ongoing biometric registration – the first of its kind in Ghana – has entered its 16th day of a 40-day period and about 6.5 million eligible voters have so far registered.
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