On Thursday, June 5, 2014, the Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, took a potentially dangerous and indefensibly stubborn position by insisting that the electoral management body would not bow to pressure from political parties and civil society groups to commission an independent audit of the biometric voters’ register. To him, there was no evidence that the register was bloated or not credible. Looking cursorily at Ghana’s 2012 voters’ list, having 56.2% of the population certified as eligible voters, may appear pretty normal. But, the picture becomes evidently disturbing upon closer scrutiny of the statistics and when compared to figures across the globe. What comes out is that Ghana has one of the most abnormal, if not the worst, electoral roll in the entire world. It is certainly the worst in democratic Africa.
This is because a nation cannot simply have a higher number of electorate than the number of people eligible (by age and other criteria) to vote. In Ghana, like in many other countries, you have to be 18 years of age, of sound mind and a citizen to vote.
Yet, figures from both the Ghana Statistical Service and the Electoral Commission show, beyond doubt, that Ghana’s voters’ register has far in excess of the number of people eligible to vote.
In 2012, when the data was eventually released, the national census estimated Ghana’s total population, including foreigners, to be 24,965,816. That year, a new electoral list was compiled by the EC, capturing for the first time, biometric data. 14,031,763 people (or names) were registered to vote in the 2012 general elections, representing 56.2%.
Even if one opts for the government statistician’s revised population estimate of 25,235,268 people at the beginning of 2012 when the registration process started, this would still leave one with 55.60% of the population being cleared to vote.