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Opinions Mon, 21 Mar 2016

Burglar-proof election reporting

Some call it bucket, others call it trolley and some say truck.

We of the motherland call it anwia kaa (sand carting vehicle) or b?la car (refuse truck).

Journalists were packed into that moving object (I heard like sardines on radio) for ‘the best view’ of an error prone (including protocol abuse) parade to celebrate a 59 number of no significance day of independence. The number is still insignificant even if I became a chief at that age.

The journalist dishonouring blemish act of an entire fourth estate of the realm hauled into a bucket by another estate, is a hallmark of the state event planner and implementer to regularly belittle, demean and endanger. Of course, it’s a group which bastardises, social democracy as chop alone whatever is for everyone, at best, with your kin and cronies; far worse than Krobo’s ‘di bi ma me nni bi’ (chop and let chop) as socialism

Some journalists should watch (the watchman must find ways of watching the back) what plans are being hatched to neutralise journalist effectiveness in the 2016 election reporting.

Last time, in 2012, journalists were deceived with someone smuggling their exclusion from early voting into election legislation to cripple reporting on polling day.

I am insinuating someone else’s responsibility because sometimes I find myself derelict such as waiting for Martin Amidu to tackle an attack on freedom of expression in the eavesdropping legislation allowing telcos to spy on election strategies of the cashless opposition.

A government, which has stolen everything out of state coffers, including debt incurred on our behalf, wants it to mercilessly squeeze the opposition.

Usually, since 1992, election burglar schemes are developed along with burglar cheating machines. In 2012, one thought they were organising thuggery to intimidate, frustrate and confuse the opposition. From the Supreme Court, we learnt it was actually about deliberately creating errors, some STL-engineered, by adding to incumbent votes while subtracting from opposition votes.

I am also sitting unconcerned about some compatriots undermining academic freedom by preventing one who has professed many things from professing a ‘swinging pendulum of three-year-four-year-three year’ senior high schooling; all because it is an election year.

I am sitting by watching that outrageous act of gagging in the name of election 2016, which is being primed to be stolen, anyway.

Let me assure everyone in the motherland that any journalist claiming to be calling an election without verifying the results and their sources would incur my wrath worse than Khan’s. Our elections have tended to be fairly free. However, they haven’t been fair. To be fair, reporting will have to exorcise and expose the thieving that characterises the ballot counting and collation with all the evils of errors and figure transpositions.

Anyone interested in fair elections must know reporting elections in the motherland has been complicit in the inaccurate, clearly manufactured results that have come to characterise the so-called free and fair elections.

At least on two occasions, I have heard a radio station call (pronouncing winners and losers) the presidential election, before official declaration of results.

Journalists have in the past tended to concentrate on covering free elections, trusting that votes freely cast would be fairly counted into fair results.

Their umbrella organisation had advised and ordered all members to source results from the body constitutionally mandated to genuinely count, collate and pronounce results. That trust was smashed by revelations in a Supreme Court election dispute trial that showed without doubt that votes were not being counted as they were cast.

So this time round in 2016, covering elections by journalists must focus on ensuring the process is fair in counting votes as cast. Radio and television and other electronic outlets need to ensure that what they publish in the public interest are results and not figure transpositions or other errors of counting and collation at the expense of the opposition.

Training journalists to cover elections should be an engagement in accurate reporting of vote counting for whom, monitoring strict compliance by officials to accurately count and record the count. Incidences such as over-voting and other errors must be promptly and instantaneously reported.

Media houses ought to be able to develop mechanisms for tracking a vote from the point of casting to ensure its fair representation in counting at the polling station.

They should then ensure that the results sheet is pasted at the polling station as required by law and that polling station results are accurately collated at the constituency centre.

They would not stop there but must find ways of directly reporting collation of constituency results at the district, regional and national levels.

They should make the 2016 election burglar-proof. Any other results not produced this way will not be a counting of who actually voted for whom.
Columnist: Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh