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General News Thu, 21 Sep 2006

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EC ready for District Level Elections

Accra, Sept. 21, GNA 96 The Electoral Commission (EC) on Thursday said preparations were afoot for the conduct of the District Level Elections on Tuesday, September 26.

With barely six days to the polls, the EC is fine-tuning its preparations for free, fair and transparent elections, Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, Director of Elections, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview in Accra.

"We have started transporting ballot papers to the various regional capitals where EC officials would distribute them to secured spots from where each of the over 20,000 polling stations would have their materials before voting starts at 0700 hours."

Mr Arhin explained that all polling stations were expected to have all the essential materials before the vote began. Each polling station, he said, would have two ballot boxes, one each for District Assembly and Unit Committee and five seals for each ballot box.

Polling stations would also have indelible ink for marking voters' thumb and thumbprint pads, among other things.

Mr Arhin said other documents and forms are a Voters' Register and ballot papers based on the number of voters on the register. He said polling stations would have transferred voters' lists where applicable, list of proxy voters, absentee voters' list, name reference list, objected names list and enumeration sheets for male and female voters.

There will be five other forms at the polling stations - statements of the poll; declaration of results form; two handing-over certificates; forms of arrest and search of suspects.

Mr Arhin said there would be one presiding officer at each polling station with four polling officers to assist.

At the District level one returning officer and two deputies would be responsible for the conduct and supervision of the elections under the direction of the District Electoral Officer and the EC.

Explaining the procedure for the elections, Mr Arhin said the elections would be between 0700 hours and 1700 hours with the entire process taking place in the open view of the public. He said agents of candidates would be allowed at polling stations to observe proceedings.

Presiding Officers in charge of polling stations would inspect the ballot papers in the presence of the agents, enter the total number, show the ballot boxes to the public to ascertain that it is empty and then place them in the open for voting.

Mr Arhin said every voter in the queue at the polling stations at the close of polling at 1700 hours would be allowed to vote and counting of ballot cast would start immediately after the last voter casts his/her ballot.

Presiding Officers may extend the voting period if polling did not start at 0700 hours due to circumstances.

The Presiding Officer would sign the form while the agents certify and the results recorded. The Presiding Officer would then publicly announce the results and a signed copy given to the candidate or agent. "It is to be noted that once the results of an electoral area have been certified in this way, the ballot papers are not counted again anywhere," Mr Arhin said.

He said even though each polling station declared its results, the overall winner of the election for the electoral area would not be known until all polling stations within it had been added. Each Presiding Officer would submit a copy of the Result Form to the Returning Officer at the District Centre for collation in the presence of the candidates or their agents.

Returning Officers sign the Result Form counter-signed by the candidate or agent after which he/she publicly announces the result and declares the winner for the electoral area.

Source: GNA

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