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Notice Of Polls On Hold – For Presidential Election

The Electoral Commission (EC) says it is waiting until all issues regarding the qualification of presidential aspirants have been clarified before publishing the notice of polls.

The EC said it was optimistic that the process of clarification would not affect its electoral timetable.Speaking at a capacity-building workshop for media practitioners in Accra yesterday, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the EC, Mr Kwame Amoah, explained that the notice of polls was a constitutional requirement that enjoined the commission to make a public announcement on the details of the elections and the various candidates.

He said the announcement had to include the date for the 2016  elections, the type of elections to be held, the names and details of presidential and parliamentary candidates, the order in which they would appear on the ballot papers, as well as other pieces of information concerning the 2016 December general election.

Background 

Seventeen presidential aspirants picked forms at the EC to contest the 2016 presidential election, but on Monday, October 10, this year, the commission disqualified 13 of them.

Those who were disqualified included Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Hassan Ayariga of the All People’s Congress (APC), Dr Edward Mahama of the People’s National Convention (PNC) and Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings of the National Democratic Party (NDP).

Following the announcement, the NDP and the PPP have sued the EC to make it rescind its decision, while the GCPP has threatened a similar action.

Other parties have also petitioned the EC to reconsider its decision.

However, a Deputy Commissioner of the EC, Mr Amadu Sulley, is reported to have said at a recent media engagement in Tamale that all hope was not lost for the 13 disqualified presidential aspirants, as the EC would accept their candidature if it was compelled by the law court to do so.

He said the EC was not disconcerted by the lawsuits with which most of the disqualified candidates had been threatening it.

He explained that the EC disqualified the 13 aspirants based on their inability to satisfy some aspects of the regulations that the commission set out.

Educating stakeholders 

Mr Amoah said the EC, as the institution mandated to manage elections, had the responsibility for educating all stakeholders on the dos and don’ts of the electoral process and their responsibility, as well as ensure a peaceful electoral process.

He said stakeholders in democracy and the elections included media practitioners and so the EC initiated the workshop to build their capacity on election reporting and Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 94, the law regulating the conduct of elections.

The journalists were taken through topics such as importance of media reportage on the elections, election officials, nomination of candidates for presidential and parliamentary elections, election monitoring and observation, after the polls, among others.

The workshop was under the sponsorship of the European Union (EU).

Verification of voters

With regard to the issue of “no verification, no vote” that some political parties had advocated in the December polls, Mr Amoah said the EC had decided to do both biometric and manual verification on election day.

He explained that an evaluation done by the commission on the limited registration exercise established that some people, through no fault of theirs, had their fingerprints faded, particularly as a result of the kind of work they did, and, therefore, using the biometric verification alone would result in electoral injustice.

“The commission is working so hard to avoid disenfranchising qualified voters illegally and so any action that will propel that will be avoided without consideration,” he said.

Mr Amoah said for the manual verification, the EC had developed a form that would be completed by people who, for genuine reasons, would not be able to be verified electronically, under the supervision and consent of all agents of presidential candidates.

The manual verification would be done after the voter’s name and portrait had been found in the electoral album and had been proved to be the same person beyond all reasonable doubt, he explained.

The manual verification forms will have the name of the voter, his or her ID number, polling station and other details on them.

Voting without ID

On the issue of voters who have misplaced their ID cards, Mr Amoah said although arrangements had been made for people to get replacement, arrangements had also been made for such persons who ensured that their names were in the voter’s register during the latest exhibition exercise were given the opportunity to vote.

He said the details of such persons would be looked for in the register and if found, they would be allowed to go through the verification process and vote.

He said the EC had put in place some mechanisms to ensure that balloting was done accurately, devoid of certain petty mistakes that were observed in past elections.

He explained that the EC would engage the services of some members of the public as collating officers, whose only duty would be to count the ballots after voting had ended, under the supervision of the presiding officers.

“We have realised that presiding officers who normally do the counting do so after having worked for so many hours on the election day and, therefore, as human as they are, they are bound to get tired and make mistakes during the counting process,” Mr Amoah said.

In a presentation on the importance of reportage on elections, the Deputy News Editor of the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Mr Francis Ameyibor, underscored the role of the media in any democratic process.

He said the actions or inaction of the media, especially during the election period, could deepen or mar the country’s democracy.

He, therefore, called on media practitioners to maintain professionalism and accuracy and offer equal coverage to presidential candidates.

He appealed to the media to desist from declaring election results ahead of the EC, since that could propel disturbances.

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