Tomorrow, Ghanaians will go to the polls to elect assembly members for the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) across the country.
The polls, being contested by a total of 18,938 candidates, comprising 17,783 men and 1,182 women, will also be used to elect members of the unit committees. in 6,135 electoral areas.
Each electoral area is electing five unit committee members.
Except in the Dichemso Electoral Area in the Ashanti Region, where a Kumasi High Court has placed an injunction on the elections, the nationwide exercise will come off throughout the country barring any hitches.
According to the EC, notices of poll, ballot papers and registers have been sent to the various regions and all polling centres.
It said 196 unit committee candidates and 29 assembly candidates, comprising students, persons above 70 years and those who used party emblems, had been disqualified from contesting in the election .
The EC also increased polling stations for the elections from 26,002 to 30,000. This was to ensure that no polling station has more than 850 people on the register to ensure that voting, as well as counting of ballots at polling stations, was done quickly.
Meanwhile, a total of 40,000 security personnel drawn from the various security agencies were yesterday deployed nationwide to oversee the district level elections slated for tomorrow.
Out of that number, 2,085 officers were drawn from the various headquarters of the security agencies in Accra and deployed to six regions to complement personnel already stationed there.
Customs and Immigration officers have been deployed to the Eastern and Volta regions respectively.
Two separate batches of prisons officers — 449 and 200 — have been moved to the Ashanti and Central regions respectively.
Batches of the police, made up of the CID, Service Workshop, Central Band and Training Schools have also been sent to the Northern and Brong Ahafo regions.
The Fire Service will be supporting officers in the Greater Accra Region.
Three regions have adequate personnel
No additional personnel were deployed in the Upper West, Upper East and Western regions. That is because, the police say there are enough officers in those regions to oversee the elections.
Officers for the Greater Accra Region will be deployed tomorrow because they did not have to travel like their colleagues who left yesterday.
The Public Affairs Director of the Ghana Police Service, Superintendent Cephas Arthur, told the Daily Graphic that the police did not foresee any disturbances, adding “But as usual, prevention is better than cure”.
The Accra-based officers from the Ghana Police Service, Prisons Service, Immigration Service and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority were yesterday morning briefed by the Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, COP John Kudalor, prior to their deployment.
He tasked the officers to exhibit professionalism, uphold peace and ensure security in the various districts they had been deployed in.
Maintain law and order
COP Kudalor charged them to maintain law and order and also create an enabling environment for the smooth and successful conduct of the polls.
He also urged them to be punctual and to be civil with the public, adding that their prime occupation was to protect electoral officers, electoral materials, the electorate and the general public.
DCOP Kudalor urged them not to be distracted from what they were supposed to do and that they were there to take instructions from the various electoral officers at whose instances they had been deployed.
He also said patrol teams would be moving around the various electoral areas and they would not hesitate to pick up anyone or group of persons who might foment trouble.
Originally scheduled for March 2015, the district-level elections were postponed after the Supreme Court had directed the EC to do so.
That was after Benjamin Ayi Mensah, an aspiring assembly member, had dragged the EC to court.
According to the aspirant, he was denied the opportunity to file his nomination despite meeting all conditions stipulated by the EC.
This time round, another hitch to the elections was from the Dichemso Electoral Area in the Ashanti Region, where a Kumasi High Court has placed an injunction on the elections.
Voter turnout in district-level elections has been persistently low over the years. And factors that would account for a low turnout this year would include inadequate voter education by the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), voter fatigue, fear of intimidation and disenchantment of voters resulting from the postponement of the elections from March 3, 2015 till now.
Others are religious reasons, long queues at polling stations, complacency and the perception that one’s candidate will or will not win.
- Graphic.com.gh online