The nationwide voters register exhibition exercise, which will allow about 17 million registered voters to verify their information, opened at almost all polling centres yesterday.
The eight-day exercise, scheduled to start from yesterday, September 10 to 18, which is being undertaken by the Electoral Commission (EC), is meant to clean the register ahead of a referendum on the participation of political parties in district-level elections.
Apart from some polling stations in the Tamale Central Constituency where the exercise could not start, there was a smooth take-off at most centres, though EC officers were not very busy.
From Tamale, Samuel Duodu reports that the exercise could not take place in all the polling stations in the Tamale Central constituency in the Tamale metropolis and some parts of the Sagnarigu and Yendi municipalities in the Northern Region.
The Electoral Commission (EC) officials in the region said materials for the exhibition for the Tamale Central constituency were not part of the materials that were received from the EC Headquarters in Accra for the start of the exercise.
The Deputy Northern Regional Director of the EC, Mr Emmanuel Abbeam-Danso, when reached on the phone by the Daily Graphic, confirmed the story and said the materials for the exercise in Tamale Central arrived at the airport in Tamale on Tuesday at 2 p.m. hence the exercise could not begin as announced.
He added that the exercise would come off in the Tamale Central constituency and the other affected polling stations in the Sagnarigu and Yendi constituencies today.
Meanwhile, some residents of the Tamale Central constituency, which is located in the heart of the metropolis, have expressed their disappointment at the development and called on the EC to extend the date for the exercise in the Tamale constituency where the materials could not arrive for the day one of the exercise.
A resident, who gave his name as Razak, said he went to his polling station at the Nawariya Primary School at Duanayili, a suburb of Tamale, near the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH), but the exercise could not come off and he was told it would start today.
He said he and others who went to the polling station were told the exercise would rather come off today.
Aside from the Tamale central where the exercise could not take place and parts of Sagnarigu and Yendi, the exercise, took place in the remaining 13 districts in the region.
They are Tolon, Kumbungu, Savelugu, Nanton, Mion, Gushegu, Karaga , Saboba, Bimbilla , Kpandai , Zabzugu, Tatale/Sangule and Wulensi.
Though all the centres set up on time ready to attend to people in Sunyani, Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah reports that patronage on the first day of the exercise was low.
At all the centres that the Daily Graphic visited, there were virtually no people present to check their names.
At the Rural Development Store Centre, only 10 people had checked their names out of the 666 on the voters’ list as of 1.55 PM.
The centre also had 30 people on the multiple voters list while the exclusive list also has four people.
At the Bakers’ Cooperative Centre at the Victoria Park, not even a single voter out of the 605 on the list had come to check his or her name at 2.05 pm, when the Daily Graphic visited the centre.
The situation was not different at the Anokye Mensah Showroom Centre, where only four people, out of 429, had checked their names as at 2.15 pm.
There were no party agents with the registration officials having virtually no work to do in the midst of the low patronage of the exercise.
The Registration Official at the Rural Development Store Centre, Mr Samuel Adu Gyamfi, was optimistic the patronage of the exercise would pick up in subsequent days attributing yesterday’s situation to the drizzle that occurred in the morning.
About 2:00 pm, when the Daily Graphic visited the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs registration centre in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region, Vincent Amenuveve reports that only 11 people out of the 636 people on the register had verified their names and other details.
At the Junior Staff Quarters centre, only nine people had checked their personal details as at 2:30 pm.
At the Bukere Primary exhibition centre, Ms Patience Yinbumongsor, told the Daily Graphic that out of the total of 1,040 registered voters, only 12 had come to verify their names and other personal details.
The Exhibition Officer said it was a normal practice for people to always wait till the last days before verifying their names.
According to her, it was prudent for registered voters to come early and verify their personal details in order to avoid long queues in the last days which might deny some of them their rights to verify and correct irregularities in their particulars.
Low patronage was also recorded in the Manhyia South Constituency in the Ashanti Region as observed by Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor.
At most of the centres, very few people had come to check their names in the register.
The EC officers on duty had very little to do. The situation was almost the same at the Odumase Ward 12 Electoral Area, the Dichemso Extension Electoral area as well as the New Tafo Dichemso Basic School, where it was, however, observed that four people were in a queue waiting to be attended to.
The EC Officer for the Dichemso Extension Electoral Area, who did not want to be named, told the Daily Graphic that patronage had been slow on the first day, but expressed the hope that things would pick up later during the subsequent days.
In Accra, the start of the exercise coincided with the opening of public basic schools and there was not much activity at the places visited. The Adenta Community School, the West Africa Senior High School (WASS), as well as the Victory Presbyterian Church stations, were all very quiet with a few people walking in to check their names.
However, the EC team did not set up at the offices of the Adentan Municipal Assembly, where there are three polling stations.
An EC officer at the WASS polling station, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they were expecting the centres to be busy by the late afternoon as most people might have taken their children to school or gone to work.
‘‘The opening days of such exercises are always very slow, and given that the day is a working day and also schools are reopening, most people may have taken their children to school or gone to work and will return early to go through the exercise. At Adenta, we record busy times in the late afternoons and also on the weekends when most people are at home’’, the EC officer said.