Monday, August 10, 2015

Ghana: Electoral body calls for help to fight rejected ballots in elections

The Electoral Commission has started the distribution of  dummy ballot papers  as a tool to educate people on how best to thumb print them  to reduce the number of rejected ballots.

The EC has, therefore, entreated social partners to support the educational campaign to significantly reduce the number of rejected ballots as a way of preparing towards the 2016 general election.

A Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Amadu Sulley, announced this  at a day's sensitisation workshop on the District  Level Election in Bolgatanga.

Making references to the Talensi by-election, Mr Sulley  stated  that in the 2012 election, about 1,200 rejected ballots were recorded, but this reduced to about 700 in the recent  by-election,

He said the aim of the EC was to reduce it  further   to 300 or less.

He further called on the media, civil society and faith-based organisations to help whip up public interest in the District-Level Elections (DLE) slated for September 1, 2015.

According to him, it was important that stakeholders supported the EC to increase turnout, which had been low since the inception of the 1992 Constitution, as all the five district assembly elections held had recorded turnouts below 50 per cent.

He equally entreated social partners to support the educational campaign to significantly reduce the number of rejected ballots as a way of preparing towards the 2016 general election.

He made the call during a day's sensitisation workshop on the DLE at Bolgatanga. The workshop, which was organised by the EC and sponsored by the European Union (EU), afforded the EC the opportunity to interact with the media, faith-based organisations, public interest organisations, civil society and community-based organisations.

Mr Sulley, who is also a commission member in charge of the Upper East Region, further pointed out that apart from 1988 that the DLE recorded over 50 per cent as turnout, all the DLEs held after the inception of the 1992 Constitution recorded low turnouts.


He said the elections were held in 1994,1998,2002, 2006 and 2010, saying the highest turnout was in 1998, which was 41.6 per cent.

"That is why our stakeholders must help us to increase awareness about the exercise to encourage more people to turn out and vote because this DLE is a litmus test for the 2016 general election," he noted.

Mr Sulley stated that the DLE was a more difficult electoral process to conduct than the parliamentary and presidential elections, saying that the country now has 6,156 electoral areas, with the Upper East Region having 353.

He said preparations were far advanced for the mounting of platforms by the various candidates, which is scheduled for August 20, 2015, stressing that the exercise was non-partisan.


The Upper East Regional Director of the EC, Mr James Arthur-Yeboah, observed that intimidation, fear and panic among eligible voters could result in increased rejected ballots.

He, therefore, urged the participants to help educate the public to see voting as a simple routine exercise and a civic responsibility that did not require exercising it under duress.

"Let the people also know that there is an in-built integrity of the EC and the system is not as biased as some people might think; it is a transparent one and that is why there are election observers who can testify to the genuineness of the elections," Mr Arthur-Yeboah pointed out.

The Head of Logistics, Elections Department of the EC, Nana Kwaku Duodo,  outlined some offences, including being in possession of another person's voter ID card without any written authority note from the individual, intimidation of voters and forcing them to vote in a particular direction.

He further warned that if an individual was convicted of any electoral offence, he or she risked being banned from engaging in any electoral process for five years.

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