Proxy voting: A clandestine tool for vote rigging?

Sat, 20 Aug 2016 Source: Badu, K

“The Electoral Commission (EC) has begun a 40-day exercise to accept application for proxy voting by eligible voters during general elections on December 7”.

“The exercise, which starts Wednesday August 17 and ends on September 26, 2016, will enable an eligible voter to delegate someone to vote on his/her behalf when he/she is unable to be present during the Presidential and Parliamentary polls”.

“The CI75-backed process will ensure that when a voter assigns a proxy, that individual’s data is retrieved, reviewed and verified for the proxy to vote, after which the proxy would go to his own polling station to cast his own individual vote”.

“Head of Communications at the EC, Eric Dzakpasu, said eligible voters who may want to assign a proxy can visit the Commission headquarters in Accra or the district offices to pick a special proxy form”.

“The proxy’s identity will be captured on a proxy list and assigned to a polling station where the voter is registered, he explained” (see: EC opens application for proxy voting -myjoyonline.com; ghanaweb.com; modernghana.com, 17/08/2016).

Apparently, the preceding explanation differs slightly from what I heard from the same head of communications at EC explained on OKY FM on Thursday 18 August 2016.

The head of EC communications stated categorically that in some cases, the prospective proxy voter alone can pick up application form on behalf of the applicant.

This is where I have serious problem. As a matter of fact, there could be serious breaches if we allow a prospective proxy voter to pick up application form in the absence of the principal applicant.

I am afraid we may have multitudinous ghosts voting on that day. For some conspiratorial plotters could scheme a fiendish plot to take advantage of the loopholes and ‘proxy’ for ghosts applicants.

It is absolutely true that a number of countries allow proxy voting in their elections, but the fact of the matter is it is commonly used by active-duty soldiers and other citizens who know they will not be present at election time, to vote in person.

Interestingly, however, critics of proxy voting claim that proxy voting may be susceptible to abuse. For instance, some critics fret that delegated relatives and minions may choose to vote for their own preferred candidates and thereby ‘robbing’ the applicants of their voting rights.

In view of the fraudulent and unfairness nature of the proxy voting, some countries have ceased its application, or have modified the system.

Though various jurisdictions in the United States have historically allowed proxy voting, it is currently outlawed under federal law. “A similar but fundamentally different procedure, called absentee voting, is allowed”.

Absentee Voting allows registered voters of active-duty members of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marine, Public Health Service and their family members; and other United States citizens who are living outside the U.S. for work, school or other reasons to exercise their voting rights.

Actually, the foreign based U.S registered voters would simply fill a form and request for absentee ballot. The voted ballots can be posted, emailed or faxed (see: www.fvap.gov).

Ironically, proxy voting was adopted by the parliament of Ghana, in the same vein as the ROPAL (the Representation of People’s Amendment Law). Strangely, however, the Electoral Commission has refused to implement the ROPAL since it was adopted in 2006. How bizarre?

To put it bluntly, it is quite ironic when one comes to think about the Electoral Commission’s double standard in carrying out its duties as obliged by the constitution of Ghana.

Actually, Act 699 of the Representation of the People's Amendment Law (ROPAL), which replaced the PNDC Law 284, directed the EC to register all Ghanaians who are qualified to vote.

So, why is the Electoral Commission mulishly sticking to the Pndc Law 284 which had been repealed and amended, and therefore does not exist?

In fact, the EC is in a state of ambivalence, in the sense that it is the same ROPAL which allowed the EC to carry out the registration of prisoners including homicidal scumbags such as armed robbers and murderers.

On the other hand, EC is refusing to apply Act 699 of the ‘ROPAL which allows the registration of our brothers and sisters in Diaspora whose remittances help boost our economy.

But, in bizarre circumstances, we are aware that the Electoral Commission has chosen to register a few individuals abroad-including all government appointees and students on government scholarships.

I daresay it is unfair on the rest of Ghanaians who were not sponsored by the government, but chose to live away from home due to multifaceted reasons.

The inquiring minds would like to know from the EC: Why some Ghanaians should be treated as second class citizen just because they have chosen to live thousands of miles across the Atlantic?

As a matter of fact, it is absolutely wrong for the EC to register a section of Ghanaians abroad and shamefully discriminating against the others.

In fact, the EC is discriminating against those of us who are not government appointees, but have decided to travail abroad to meliorate our lives and in the process supporting the economy back home.

So, what is the sense in alienating the ‘gargantuan boosters’ of the economy and ridiculously including armed robbers and murderers in jail? .

I would like to think by leaving out thousands of eligible Ghanaian diaspora and registering prisoners, government appointees and selected students on government scholarships, EC may be flouting Article 296 which states: “Where in this Constitution or any other law discretionary power is vested in any power or authority, that discretionary power is deemed to imply a duty to be fair and candid”.

I daresay that the continuous application of the proxy voting would be seen as an excoriation on the progress made so far in our democratic dispensation. In other words, it would be seen as “poison in honey”.

If I may ask: What is the essence of the introduction of the Biometric registration and verification?

It is important that we move forward in valence and refrain from any act of impishness which may jeopardise the national ambiance.

K. Badu, UK.

Columnist: Badu, K