With preparation towards the 2016 elections at fever pitch, the Electoral Commission (EC) and three political parties say they have done all within their power for successful polls.
On the special voting which comes off on Thursday, December 1, 2016, the Head of Communications at the EC, Mr Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday that all the necessary logistics, including pink sheets and ballot papers, had been dispatched to the centres where the special voting would take place.
He said at an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting in Accra last Friday, representatives of political parties and other stakeholders expressed satisfaction with the level of preparation made by the EC towards the conduct of the elections.
The major sticky point at the IPAC meeting, he said, had to do with the number of special voters which had increased from 114,813 to 127,394 as a result of the inclusion of police recruits and temporary staff of the EC.
After the necessary explanation regarding what had occasioned the increase in the special voting list,, Mr Dzakpasu said, the stakeholders understood the issues and agreed to operate, taking into consideration the spirit of the law, instead of the letter.
The meeting agreed that the parties should submit their external hard drives to download the list of special voters and the voters register.
Elaborating on preparations by the EC, he said the training of EC officials and the training of trainers would be completed before the special voting, while the training of party agents would be completed after the special voting.
Meanwhile, there are mixed responses to the level of preparation so far made by the EC towards the conduct of the elections.
While the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Convention People’s Party (CPP) have expressed satisfaction with the preparation so far, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) says it is not entirely satisfied.
In an interview in Accra yesterday, a Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Koku Anyidoho, said the consensus reached at the IPAC meeting last Friday further encouraged the NDC that the elections would be free and fair.
“We are confident that the EC has the capacity to run free and fair elections,” he said.
He said the political parties and the EC reached a consensus on the issue of over-voting.
The agreement was that electoral officials were required to wave the ballot papers in the air before handing them to voters to prevent the giving out of more than one ballot paper to a voter.
Mr Anyidoho said polling booths were also supposed to be positioned in such a way to allow voters to be observed, so that they did not tamper with the ballot papers.
Besides, he said, there was consensus that the stamp pads be placed in the open to thwart the effort of people who would want to smuggle their dubious stamp pads to the polling stations.
He said the issue of some people applying creams on their heads and rubbing the cream on their fingers to destroy ballot papers during sorting out to create a situation of double voting was raised.
He said the EC indicated that it would provide hand gloves for those who would do the sorting out of ballot papers to prevent tampering with ballot papers.
The NDC Deputy Scribe said another major consensus reached was the agreement to educate security personnel that it was not their duty to monitor the elections but provide security.
He said the concern was that some security personnel sometimes believed that they controlled the elections.
Position of CPP
Mr Anyidoho said it was agreed at the IPAC meeting that the EC would hold a press conference to put out its final modalities for the elections, in compliance with Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 94.
In a separate interview, the Director of Elections for the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Mr James Kwabena Bomfeh, said the party was satisfied with the preparations that had been made by the EC for successful elections.
He said all the processes of the EC had been participatory and transparent, adding that the CPP had no reason to doubt the ability of the electoral body to conduct credible polls on December 1 for special voters and December 7 for the rest of voters.
“We went for an IPAC meeting last Friday and all processes leading to the elections were discussed in a dispassionate and open manner. So for us in the CPP, we are satisfied that the EC will deliver credible elections,” he said.
Mr Bomfeh further stated that issues relating to misgivings on the part of some political parties concerning the processes leading to the special voting had been clarified by the EC and that all stakeholders should have confidence that the polls would be free and fair.
However, the acting General Secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, said the party was not satisfied with the extent of work done by the EC towards the special voting on Thursday, December 1.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday, he said although the special voting was a few hours away, those who had submitted their names to vote early because of the roles they would play on election day had still not received confirmation from the EC that the event was, indeed, coming off and where they would be required to vote.
Mr Boadu also mentioned the unending list of the special voting as worrying to the NPP.
“It is a major concern to the party and we think there should be a finality to it. As we speak now, many of the people who are interested in voting are not aware whether they are voting or not because the list has not been given to the institutions in question for them to know.
“There are people who have spent their time to go and check and they are complaining that their names are not on the list, so it is one area the EC must tackle quickly,” he said.
Mr Boadu said another area of concern was the inability of the EC to delete the names of those who would do the special voting from the voters register.
He said the EC’s claim that it would only remove the barcode from the printed circuit board (PCB) but maintain the names on the register was another area that was not very clear.
He commended those who had taken steps to vote and said he believed they would vote massively against the incumbent government to bring in the NPP.
Concerns of PPP, NDP, PNC
Before the IPAC meeting, three of the political parties contesting this year’s general election had expressed concern over the fact that the presidential and parliamentary elections would not be free and fair.
According to the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and the National Democratic Party (NDP), “free and fair elections do not happen on voting days; they happen only if a number of things are in place and are guaranteed for the benefit of all the players”.
In a statement signed by the flag bearers of the three parties — Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom of the PPP, Dr Edward Nasigre Mahama of the PNC and Mrs Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings of the NDP, they further said free and fair elections were not limited to the electorate queuing up on December 7, 2016 to cast their ballots and for a person to be declared a winner.
Ghana Education Service
In another development, the management of the Ghana Education Service (GES) has reminded heads of institutions, students and the public that Wednesday, December 7, 2016, which is the general election day, is not a statutory holiday.
“However, the GES wishes to clarify that at the basic education level, the affected schools and teachers are permitted a day off to enable the premises of such schools to be used as polling stations and the selected teachers to perform their national assignment on election day,” a statement issued by the GES said.
It explained that at the senior high school level, those who were 18 years and above and registered during the recent registration exercise would be allowed to go to their respective polling stations with exeat to exercise their right, after which they were expected to return to school.
The statement urged heads to follow the directive strictly.
It stated that vacation day for basic schools remained Thursday, December 15, 2016, while senior high schools would vacate as scheduled.