On Over Voting Acceptations

Wed, 18 Sep 2013 Source: Badu, K.

: Conventional Wisdom Is Violently Shaken

Stuffing boxes with phony ballots and diddling with the count behind the scenes, are the old-fashioned ways to steal elections, yet in contemporary elections, the villainous acts are still deployed in some cases.

Indeed, the vast majority of Ghanaians are somehow besotted by the cranky definitions of over voting, following the judgment of the 2012 elections petition. Yes, the idiosyncratic definitions of over voting are extremely befuddling to many discerning Ghanaians, more so when conventional wisdom has been gratuitously overlooked.

In retrospect, the so-called classical definition of over voting by no lesser person than Dr. Afari-Gyan, the Electoral Commissioner, was an absolute apish imitation of a great japer. Truly, Dr. Afari-Gyan’s seemingly hypocritical outlook left many reflective thinking Ghanaians with puzzled countenance. Indeed, Dr. Afari-Gyan’s prime definition of over voting hugely smacks of timidity, or worse still lousiness. Because, it would appear as ‘a rabbit in the hat’, in the event of the votes in the ballot box exceeding the voter’s register (Dr. Gyan’s classical definition of over voting).

Of course, the Electoral Commissioner’s classical definition of over voting is one of the multiple acceptations of over voting. However, in my opinion, over voting signification is not exhaustive. For instance, in as much as the classical definition of over voting may be the prime definition of the electoral commissioner, there are other definitions as well. In this regard, isn’t it bizarre that an Electoral Commissioner of such a high repute could not arrive at vivid definitions of over voting?

Interestingly, aside of his classical definition, Dr. Afari-Gyan admitted under cross examination that over voting may also occur in the event of the votes in the ballot box exceeding the number of verified voters. This, for me, is a cogent definition of over voting. This is because apart from the biometric machines verifying the duly registered voters, there would be added benefit of counting the voters who would be verified to vote. So after adding the ‘face only’ voters, it would be easy to fish out the phony votes, or stuffed ballot papers (Apologies to Justice Atuguba).

In furtherance, I am also in acquiescence in the event of the votes in the ballot box exceeding the allocated ballot papers to a particular polling station. This also, for me, may be a possibility, going by Justice Atuguba’s ballot stuffing definition. I must also admit, hitherto I had shown no deference to Asiedu Nketsia’s oxymoronic definition of over voting (the influx of foreign materials), until our eminent Supreme Court Justice, Atuguba acceded to such seemingly a whirlwind political exegesis.

In his judgment, Justice Atuguba made puzzling observations including the definition of over-voting which was one of the claims complained about by the petitioners. “The first is where the number of those who voted at a polling station exceeds the number of voters contained in the relevant polling station register. The second situation is where the number of ballots in the ballot book exceeds the number of ballot papers issued to the relevant polling station. Pondering over these two categories closely, I would think that the second category of over voting is rather an instance of ballot-stuffing as testified by Johnson Asiedu-Nketia,” the presiding judge held in his 48-page opinion.

I concur, ballot stuffing is a reality. But, the overarching question is: would such flagitious plot not amount to over voting, going by Asiedu Nketsia’s infamous influx of foreign materials explication? And is ballot stuffing not criminal and squeamish, considering the surreptitious and ravenous approach? Why must we allow ‘the ballot stuffers’ to go scot free?

Did I hear there have been suggestions of electoral reforms? Well, for me, the reforms must first hit ‘ballot stuffing; it should be made a crime to stuff ballot boxes and no one must be allowed to benefit from such criminal activity. Because without an iota of doubt, ballot stuffing would inevitably add extra votes to a particular candidate.

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K.