Story: News Desk
The Electoral Commission (EC) has set October 3, 2023 for this year’s District Level Election (DLE) per its scheduled activities.
It, however, said the date for the DLE was subject to change depending on the approval of the proposed new Constitutional Instrument (C.I) by Parliament.
The Deputy Chairman of the EC in-charge of Operations, Samuel Tettey, made this known at a forum on the 2023 DLE in Accra yesterday.
The forum, on the theme “2023 District Level Election:
The role of stakeholders and matters arising” was organised by the Centre for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA).
Aimed at educating stakeholders about the DLE, it also discussed ways to improve voter turnout which has been at an all-time low over the years.
The DLE is to elect assembly and Unit Committee members.
Speaking at the forum, Mr Tettey said the new C.I. which was seeking to make the Ghana Card the sole document for identification for registration was yet to be laid before He said when approved, the new C.I would regulate continuous voter registration in the country.
“If this new C.I. goes through, the commission will undertake the continuous voter reAside from that, he said some internal activities of the commission such as recruitment of staff, logistics and other election administration processes might also be a subject for the change of the date set by the commission for the DLE.
He said unlike the presidential and parliamentary elections, candidates for the DLE were not expected to pay a deposit or filing fee.
He stated that the EC would provide details of electoral processes through a series of public and voter education programmes on the DLE.
Mr. Tettey therefore called on all stakeholders to assist the EC by playing their roles to ensure the delivery of a free, fair and transparent election. registration exercise at the district level,” he said.
A Local Governance Expert, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, called for the politicisation of the DLE to improve the voter turnout of the election.
He said section six of the Local Governance Act 2016(Act 936) as amended by Act 940, provided that DLE should be held every four years with an interval between the DLE and the Presidential and Parliamentary elections being at least six months apart.
He indicated that since 1988, Ghana has had eight successive local level elections to engender greater citizens’ participation in the process.
He said despite the constitutional guarantee of the right to vote, there had been gross apathy among the citizenry in local governance elections leading to low turnout.
“Turnout for DLE have been declining from 59.3 per cent in 1988/89 to 33.6 per cent in 2019 as against a national turnout of 2020 general election of about 78.89 per cent
“Apart from the 59.3 per cent turnout during the PNDC military rule we have never hit the 50 per cent turnout mark since we entered constitutional rule under civilian elected governments from 1993,” he said.
To improve voter turnout for this year’s DLE, Dr Osae recommended, among others, making the DLE election day a holiday or an add on to an existing one, amend article 55(3) and allow political parties to sponsor candidates, intensify sensitisation among citizens about the DLE and develop strategies to improve women and youth participation.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural development, Dan Botwe, in a speech read on his behalf, said the ministry would be working with the media to ensure adequate publicity on the DLE, adding that a National Media Brief would be held in Accra to kick-start the awareness creation.
He expressed the ministry’s commitment to deepen decentralisation and collaboration with stakeholders for a successful election.
The Deputy Executive Director of CLGA, Gillian Naadu Tetteh, for her part, called for an increase in the participation of women in and PWDs by supporting them to contest in the election.