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Opinions Tue, 13 Aug 2013

Re "Electoral Commission’s Address Speaks for Itself"!

"....The Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) is, and always ought to be, an independent administrative agency. But the Ghana EC controls resources appropriated to it by politicians. On the entire continent of Africa, the record of the Ghana EC is unsurpassed. In fact, if Ghanaians could get just 51% of Ghana's public agencies (Police Service, Customs, Judicial Services, the Presidency, itself, etc.) to operate as objectively, as professionally, and with a little less partisanship as the EC has done three national elections and counting, the economy of the nation of Ghana and the social welfare of its Peoples would have surpassed what still remains abysmally unreachable Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the first vote of that last election. More precisely, in 2012, we couldn't expect electronic-age performance and reliability from the EC when politicians allowed the EC 1965-era Word Processor "resources" that produce "Errors" in attempts to access "Portable Document Files (PDFs)". More than any other agency, the future political development of Ghana rides four-square on the shoulders of the Ghana EC. They deserve respect, commendation, and unabashed support..." (Prof Lungu, 8 Aug, 2013).

Professor Kwaku Asare's "Electoral Commission’s Address Speaks for Itself", published on Ghanaweb, 6 Aug, caused a lot of us to scratch our heads. In our opinion, the essay was a highly de-contextualized polemic that sought to thrash the summary statement of the Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) to the Supreme Court in the case of the 2012 presidential election petition by the NPP. In our opinion, in this case at least, Professor Asare's many observations and demands failed to pass the test of administrative reality, particularly in the Ghanaian context, and as a result, validated the inelegant, but otherwise authentic, EC summary statement to the Supreme Court.

After reading Professor Asare's essay, we believe that the objective reader would swiftly conclude that they had been hosed with an uncritical, hype-partisan polemic in support of his and the NPP point of view, notwithstanding the legal frames advanced by Professor Asare to support the four corners of his arguments.

On our part, we were a bit saddened about Professor Asare's attempts to de-legitimize the EC by ascribing ill-motives to the agency. By his declaration, this "taxpayer-funded entity" prematurely declared the winner with a "partisan posture". This, notwithstanding (1) "clerical errors," (2) instances of over-voting, (3) failure by "EC-appointed presiding officers" to sign 1% of 100% the "pink sheet," and (4) failure of the EC to ensure "Biometric Verification" was conducted 100% of the time as required by the Constitution, among other baffling suppositions.

So, here is our perspective on the matter!

For an election that most international observers agreed was fair and violence-free, for an election for which there is no record any group(s) of people were prevented from participating by Florida-type voter suppression laws and administrative shenanigans, for an election for which party agents of political parties signed 99% of all election "pink sheets", for an election that Professor Asare himself reports the EC itself threw away some ballots and annulled other votes that did not meet the EC's own "validity" tests, for all these reasons, the EC deserves a lot more commendation and appreciation, from all of us.

After all, the 2012 election was not the first one administered by the same EC. Is this not the same EC that called the election for the NPP the previous 2 presidential elections? Was the EC partisan back then?

Yes, we agree that errors/fallibility on the part of "one hundred thousand temporary officials, who are trained for only a short time, to conduct...elections in a day or two” is unavoidable. In fact, in most cases, administrative errors have to be significant to affect the outcome of any election, assuming there is a dispute. We find that this is the essence of the EC summary statement.

However, Professor Asare did not advance any arguments to show that the EC-reported errors were significant.

We will even go a step further. We believe that Professor Asare's 4 questions on this point are only partially answerable by the EC. For instance, regarding(1) when the EC became aware of these so-called administrative, clerical and (il)logical errors and (2) what were the nature and effect of those errors, we believe those are precisely issues for the Supreme Court given the nature of the litigation. In addition, the question whether errors were known before the declaration of the results, and whether the errors were corrected before declaration of the winner are also issues for the Supreme Court to decide, as part of the resolution of the case before the Court.

Further, we will now observe that if the Supreme Court was paying attention, a critical item they ought to have considered was the extent the 2012 presidential election was administered differently from all previous recent elections which the EC itself was responsible, This would include the previous 2 elections won by the NPP. (For instance, what resources were made available to the EC by the various governments of the day to support the thousands of EC temporary officials and permanent employees who administered those national elections?

Finally, with respect to Professor Asare's question "what steps have the EC taken to remediate....(errors...found after the declaration)", we will venture that this is the only bona fide EC question of the 4 he raised. However, even here, the appropriate final resolution/mitigation plan can only be developed after the litigation and verdict, whatever the direction, but not during the litigation.

In summary, the Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) is, and always ought to be, an independent administrative agency. But the Ghana EC controls resources appropriated to it by politicians. On the entire continent of Africa, the record of the Ghana EC is unsurpassed. In fact, if Ghanaians could get just 51% of Ghana's public agencies (Police Service, Customs, Judicial Services, the Presidency, itself, etc.) to operate as objectively, as professionally, and with a little less partisanship as the EC has done three national elections and counting, the economy of the nation of Ghana and the social welfare of its Peoples would have surpassed what still remains abysmally unreachable Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the first vote of that last election. More precisely, in 2012, we couldn't expect electronic-age performance and reliability from the EC when politicians allowed the EC 1965-era Word Processor "resources" that produce "Errors" in attempts to access "Portable Document Files (PDFs)". More than any other agency, the future political development of Ghana rides four-square on the shoulders of the Ghana EC.

Therefore, in this case, the "Ghana Electoral Commission’s address" speaks administrative reality. The EC has defend its processes and the outcome of the election. All the "parties" now at the Supreme Court equally have a duty to assist the adjudication of the litigation. The "Ghana Electoral Commission’s address" speaks great promise for Ghana! They deserve respect, commendation, and unabashed support.

So it goes, Ghana!

©Prof Lungu is Ghana-centered, Ghana-Proud. Prof Lungu is based in Washington DC, USA. Prof Lungu is brought to you courtesy, www.GhanaHero.com. Join us: (Email: professor.lungu at yahoo.com). (Washington DC, USA, 10 August, 2013).

Columnist: Lungu, Prof