Opinions Wed, 6 Jan 2016

Votes win elections, nothing else does!

By Cletus D Kuunifaa

The last election showed that Ghanaian voters are beginning to value their votes more than handouts. The power of handouts is weakening in the Ghanaian electoral landscape as a result of the secret ballot. Politicians are unlikely to find out how a voter voted. Interestingly, Ghanaians voters are becoming sophisticated over time as most will likely accept money from election candidates but still vote for a candidate of their choice.

It’s an uncontestable fact that votes win elections but not what people perceived to be otherwise Therefore, political parties must care about their ground game, their campaign messages and do less worry about the Electoral Commissioner.

Politicians and political observers must determine the characteristics of their voters in the hope that once they are identified, messages could be crafted to push or pull their decisions one way or the other. For political parties contesting in an election, it should be about getting out the vote. To this end, the most important thing is making sure they have ground infrastructure in place, so they can knock on people’s doors and talk to people face to face.

Campaign strategists suggest that persuading a non-voter to vote is more of a psychological and social exercise than a purely rational appeal to one’s ideology or preference on any given issue. That is to suggest that the decision to vote is most strongly affected when voters are placed in a social milieu that urges their participation. So in short, personal invitations work, as do visits to a voter’s home and phone calls.

If political parties focus on their campaign strategies, the best party will come out swinging in this election. Otherwise, there is no need berating the electoral commissioner. She has a job to perform and she knows too well the consequences of her actions and inactions regarding the performance of this job. She is not that stupid nor is she unaware of the burden that she carries in this election. Most importantly, the last election cycle will serve a point of reference for moving forward and moving past all the shortcomings of the last elections. We should all be optimistic about a positive outcome of this election.

Why do we have polling agents at polling stations? As a matter of fact, our elections are won from the polling centers. Votes cast are counted at these centers with agents and observers on standby to observe. Results are then certified by party representatives and transmitted to Electoral Commission (EC). EC then collates the results from these polling stations. Party representatives have the transcripts and manifest of results to compare with the voters register nationally. My guess is that we do have party representatives at the EC’s strong room to cross check the submitted results from polling stations across the nation. So how will an electoral commissioner win an election if not the votes?

Let cool heads prevail. Let political parties engage more their polling agents at polling stations. Let political parties’ representatives at the “strong room” where the results are collated be engaged and be more vigilant. Added to this, we surely have local and international observers to assuage our fears about electoral malpractices.

In all of this, our hypothesis about election 2016 might turn out to be a null hypothesis, if our suppositions that this election will have negative consequences as a result of manipulation end up having positive consequences with no manipulation at all.

Cletus D Kuunifaa

TMC Group

Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa
Columnist: Kuunifaa, Cletus D.