The Electoral Commission (EC) has picked October 3, 2023, as the date for the election of members into the District Assemblies and as members of Unit Committees across the country.
Mr Samuel Tettey, a Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations, who disclosed this, said the date was, however, subject to change depending on the early approval of the Constitutional Instrument (C.I 91) currently before Parliament.
Speaking at a stakeholder consultative forum organised by the Centre for Local Governance and Advocacy in Accra, Mr Tettey said the elections, should it be held, would take place in all 6,272 electoral areas and 38,622 polling stations nationwide.
Section 6 of the Local Governance Act 2016 (Act 936) (as amended by Act 940) provides that District Level Elections shall be held every four (4) years and the interval between the DLE and the Parliamentary elections shall be held at least six (6) months apart.
Mr Tettey said preparations towards the elections had commenced in earnest, with the Commission in the process of procuring all the necessary electoral materials for smooth kick-off of the exercise.
“Some of the activities are internal, you know, like the logistics that we need for the district level elections. The Commission has actually started procuring them, so the only thing left with us is with the approval of the draft C.I. by Parliament,” he said.
He indicated that as part of the preparations, the Commission would in the coming days (in July) undertake a voter registration exercise across all its district offices, adding that, the primary identification document for registration would be the Ghana Card.
Mr Tettey said: “Previously, what used to be the bane was that we were doing periodic ones (registration), and at times, limited ones at the district level because of the challenges that we have with the periodic registration. For instance, high cost of the registration, high level of confrontations, protestations, long queues, busing of prospective candidates to registration centres and at times some operational difficulties.
“So, the Commission, to address this issues has decided to embark on continuous voter registration exercise to be done at all the district offices of the Commission and the Commission will be using the permanent staff to do this,” he said.
The Deputy Chairman also said the EC would open nomination for interested persons to file their nomination, explaining that, to minimise financial burden on prospective candidates, the Commission would make available limited hard copies of the nomination forms at its various district offices for pick up and filing.
Mr Tettey urged prospective candidates to abide by the rules and laws of the EC to ensure an incident-free election.
While assuring Ghanaians of the EC’s readiness to conduct a free, fair and transparent district assembly elections, he also entreated all stakeholders to assist the Commission to deliver the mandate.
Dr Eric Oduro Osae, a Local Government Expert, urged Ghanaians to allow political parties participation at the district level elections to address issues of low turnout and increase citizens’ participation in local governance.
Government, between 2018 and 2019 pursued the amendment of Article 55(3) to enable multiparty participation in the districts and 243(1) for the election of MMDCEs, as part of efforts to reform the local governance system and devolve more power and resources to the local communities.
However, a planned national referendum scheduled for December 17, 2019, was cancelled for lack of adequate public knowledge and broad-based consensus on the reforms.
Dr Osae said: “If we think involvement of political parties is not good at the national level, we should ban it but if we continue along those lines, then we should bring it to the local level too because what is good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said.
Mr Dan Botwe, Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, said the Government was committed to deepening decentralisation and enhancing development at the local level.
The forum brought together civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, assembly members, NCCE, and youth groups, among others.
Its objective was to among other things, draw the attention of relevant stakeholders to the critical issues related to the district level elections, raise awareness to the 2023 district level elections and strengthen the capacity of CSOs, FBOs, traditional authorities to mobilise citizens for improved voter turnout.