4 things you need to know about the controversy surrounding Ghana’s early voting
Early voting in Ghana will hold on December 1st, for key individuals who will play special roles on the December 7th general elections. Over 114,000 registered voters, consisting of the election security task force, police, immigration, prisons officials, national fire service, electoral commission officials and journalists are expected to cast their votes ahead of the general elections in 284 polling stations across each constituency in the country.
Here are four things you need to know:
Opposition parties unite
Opposition parties have accused the electoral commission of doing the bidding of the police and the ruling party to rig the early voting process, which the electoral commission vehemently denied.
The opposition parties are accusing the electoral commission and the police of introducing more names into the already compiled voters register, raising questions about the commission’s neutrality. The move was described as a recipe for crisis and likely to cause outrage at the polling stations since some political parties were unaware of the situation.
Breach Of C.I. 94
Sources say the move, when executed, would be a clear breach of C.I. 94–the instrument being used to regulate the December 7 polls.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), issued a directive to all the regional, divisional, district, and unit police commanders to liaise with EC officials to include missing names of recruits in training within their jurisdiction, which is inconsistent with the law. The application to be entered on the list of special voters was determined and concluded on October 28, 2016–42 days to polls day as required by law.
The C.I. 94 requires qualified voters to be entered into the register of special voters and how the application process ought to be done. It also lays out where and when that process ought to be completed, and the directive from the IGP contravened the provisions.
What’s with the numbers?
There was controversy around the number of registered voters released by the electoral commission for the special voting exercise, which alarmed voters and political parties. The electoral commission released an official list of 65,000 voters that were expected to cast their ballot on December 1st. Head of communications at the EC, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, gave the breakdown as 871 for media personnel, 23,567 for security services and 40,563 election officials.
Shortly after, the deputy director of communications, Yussif Ayiba declared that the list released by his boss was not the final list. He explained that the EC Chairperson, Charlotte Osei was scheduled to speak at Chatham House and needed shadow figures to present as an indication of their preparation, without factoring in the central staff recruited to work on the day of the general elections. With the central staff included, the list comes to 114,813 officials set to vote during the special voting exercise.
EC gets dragged to court
The commission was dragged to court over the rules governing special voting by Dr Kwame Amoako Tuffuor, a member of opposition party, NPP, an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioner Benjamin Arthur, and a pensioner Adreba Abrefa Damoa. They argued that the Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 94, which states that special voting ballot boxes will be sealed to be opened on the close of poll on election day for counting were unconstitutional. NPP wanted the results of the special voters counted and declared instead of waiting until December 7 to count it together with the general voters.
The supreme court dismissed the suit, stating that a declaration of the results of special voting could prejudice the results of the general election.