Six NDC prez aspirants question credibility of company tasked to print ballot papers
Six presidential aspirants seeking to lead the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the next general election have petitioned the party over the credibility of the company tasked to print the ballot papers for the upcoming primaries.
The six aspirants – Alban SK Bagbin, Nurideen Ali, Sylvester Mensah, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Goosie Tanoh and Joshua Alabi – also say the credibility of the voters' register is questionable because it comes without photographs of delegates.
In a statement, published in full below, the aspirants said a more credible company like the Assembly Press should have been given job to print the ballot papers.
They said this would have ensured that some of the irregularities that rocked the party's national executive election held in November 2018 will not re-occur this time around.
“We are also deeply concerned about the apparent decision to award the contract for the printing of the ballots to the same company that printed ballots for the November NEC elections. As you are no doubt aware, several contestants and observers of those elections have described significant irregularities with the ballot papers.
“These include the incorrect rendering of aspirants' names, mismatching of pictures and names and presence of duplicate ballot papers (i.e. with the same supposedly “unique” serial number). All of these irregularities have been cited in a discourse that calls the legitimacy of the outcome of some of the NEC elections in question,” the aspirants petitioned.
The petition was addressed to the party's National Election Commission and copied to the Chairman of NDC's National Council of Elders, Jerry John Rawlings, NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia and party Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo.
The six aspirants also called on the Election Committee of the party to furnish them with a voter's register which contains photographs of the voters.
Below is the full statement from the six NDC aspirants:
23 January 2019
National Election Guidelines
We refer to our discussions last Sunday at Party HQ. We made considerable progress towards “free and fair” Guidelines for the Presidential primaries – to the point that we agreed to proceed with vetting and balloting while we await the text of the new Guidelines.
We had hoped by now to receive an update regarding your proposed discussions with the Council of Elders and the current state of the process.
While we wait, we wish to revisit two issues that we discussed on Sunday – the character of the electoral roll and the selection of a company to print ballot papers.
Primaries Electoral College Voters' Roll
We are deeply concerned that the Voters' register provided to Aspirants yesterday consists simply of a list of names without photographs, Voter ID card numbers or even Party membership card numbers. There is also considerable inconsistency in the formatting. Our concern obviously is that this approach creates opportunities for voter impersonation and unnecessary confusion on Polling Day.
The use of a voters' roll with pictures has been standard electoral practice in Ghana since 2000 – enabling polling officers to verify prospective voters' identities at the Polling station and substantially reduce the risk of impersonation. We know that the Party would not agree to participate in a national election using a voters' roll that does not provide pictures or ID numbers. It is our view that the provision of an EC standard Roll falls squarely within the requirements for “free and fair” as provided for in the Judicial Settlement agreed last Thursday in Ali v NDC.
We know further that the Party's re-registration exercise (designed precisely to enable the Party to identify its members accurately for purposes such as elections) captured members' Voter ID card numbers. We know that the raw data exists at constituency level (where it was used for CEC elections). It should not be too difficult to update the Voters' Roll and provide Voter ID card numbers. We have checked informally with the EC and can confirm that if the Party provides this information the EC can print off a Primaries Electoral College Roll that includes pictures and Voter ID numbers within a matter of days.
We acknowledge that in a few cases (principally TEIN members) registrants had not reached voting age at the time of the last national voters' registration exercise and thus did not have Voter ID cards to use in the Party re-registration exercise last year. We appreciate that special arrangements will need to be made to avoid disenfranchising these members and we are willing to be flexible to achieve this.
We are also deeply concerned about the apparent decision to award the contract for printing of the ballots to the same company that printed ballots for the November NEC elections. As you are no doubt aware several contestants and observers of those elections have described significant irregularities with the ballot papers (amongst other irregularities). These include incorrect rendering of aspirants' names, mismatching of pictures and names and presence of duplicate ballot papers (i.e. with the same supposedly “unique” serial number). All of these irregularities have been cited in a discourse that calls the legitimacy of the outcome of some of the NEC elections in question.
Again, in the context of the history cited above we believe that this choice would violate the spirit and indeed the letter of the “free and fair” commitment set out in the Settlement Agreement.
In our meeting last Sunday, we noted that the EC has accredited a number of printing houses for this kind of work including Assembly Press which is a state-owned facility. We would prefer to work with one of these printing houses. This is also in line with the commitment made that after the balloting for positions on the Ballot Sheet the process would be managed by the EC.
We would also like a briefing on polling day logistics and especially transportation and feeding with your committee at your earliest and hopefully within the next week.
Our teams are immediately available to meet with FEC or the Electoral Committee to discuss these matters and achieve acceptable solutions that prevent further disruption to the proposed election schedule.
Alban SK Bagbin
Hon. Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah
HE Flt Jerry John Rawlings
Chairman, National Council of Elders
Hon. Samuel Ofusu-Ampofo
Chairman and Leader