Politics of 2014-06-07

EC to increase polling stations - Afari-Gyan

The Electoral Commission (EC) is in the process of increasing polling stations across the country, to help reduce long queues that occur at various polling stations during voting periods, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Commission has announced.

Dr Afari-Gyan was responding to a comment by a participant at the dialogue series organized by the National Commission on Civic Education’s (NCCE) in Accra, as to what the EC was doing about the long queues that occur at polling stations.

He said EC had taken notice of such long queues that sometimes delay the process, and has mapped out operational mechanism to address it, which includes increasing the number of polling stations.

Commenting on the aftermath of the election petition, Dr Afari-Gyan said, results of elections in the country will continue to be very close, and as such the same issues of irregularities will be causes of concern, so the need to address such problems together with all stakeholders, including IPAC members, as well as voters.

He said he was happy that the Supreme Court judges in dealing with the election petition recognized the role of the voter as an important element of the election, and therefore interpreted the issues within their context.

“The right to vote and to have your vote counted is very important and so if a presiding officer refuses to sign a pink sheet which is an administrative issue, the voter should not be made to suffer after having gone through pain to vote, rather the presiding officer should be made to face the consequences,” Dr Afari-Gyan noted.

On the issue of over voting, he said it was proper that the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) call for interpretation of over-voting was seriously considered by the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), whereas the issue of voting without verification could easily be resolved through the use of technology and other human factors.

He explained that even before a voter’s name appeared in the voters register; he or she would have undergone “a certain form of verification” which could help authenticate the eligibility of a voter. “The ultimate verification is the facial verification”.

EC alone cannot resolve the issues of elections and that each participant must be vigilant, he noted.

The EC Chairman said since all the recommendations from the court bordered on pink sheet, the Commission would sit with political parties to look at the practicalities of the issues and resolve them.

Mrs Charlotte Osei, Chairperson of NCCE, said it was important that IPAC met to decide on the issue of over-voting within the Ghanaian context.

She also indicated that the Dialogue would be held quarterly to educate Ghanaians on various national issues that would “help strengthen our democracy.”

Present at the Dialogue were representatives of the various political parties, state institutions, civil society groups and other professionals.

Some participants at the Dialogue called on the EC to liaise with Ghanaians who have the technology know-how to help involve technology as a critical component of the election processes.

Others called on IPAC to review the “no verification no vote policy,” adopted during the last elections, so as not to disenfranchise eligible voters should a machine fail to identify a voter.

The NCCE Dialogue series have been introduced this year on the theme “Engage, Educate, Empower, ” to discuss national issues that will empower the citizenry to participate in the processes that will sustain Ghana’s democracy.

The topic discussed under the first in the series of the quarterly event was: “Beyond the August 29 Verdict: Lessons and Path Ahead”.