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EC sets out rules for Closing Polls

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 Source: GNA

The Electoral Commission (EC) says the December Polls would close at all polling stations at 1700 hours on Election Day.

According to the EC’s 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Manual tagged: “A Guide to Voters,” made available to the Ghana News Agency, in Accra, says at the close of polls, all persons in the queue waiting to vote at that hour, must, however, be allowed to vote.

The Presiding Officer (PO) should, consequently, request the security personnel to stand at the end of the queue and ensure that no one joins it afterwards.

The education on the EC Guide to the Voter, is under the “GNA Tracks Election 2016 Project,” being funded by GOIL, the foremost indigenous oil marketing company and CIMG’s 2015 Petroleum Company of the Year.

The EC says: “No ballot should be opened for votes to be counted until after 1700 hours, even if there is no one waiting to vote before that hour”.

The PO must ensure that only designated persons are admitted to the table where the count will take place.

They include the Polling Assistants, Polling/Counting Agents, Observers and Journalists authorised by the Commission, Commissioners and officials of the EC.

The EC directs the POs to complete appropriate columns of the results sheet, indicating the quantities of unused ballot papers, as well as any spoilt ballots, ballots issued to proxy voters and ballots issued to voters on the polling station register.

“Starting with the presidential ballots, the PO must break the seals on the ballot box, in full view of the counting agents, remove all the ballot papers from the ballot box and stack them on the counting table,” it says.

“With the ballot papers facing down, the PO must check if the validating stamp number at the back belongs to the polling station, at the same time count them to see whether the figure equals the ballot papers issued to voters, including spoilt papers.”

“If the reconciliation is successful, the PO must stack the ballot paper on the counting table, according to the candidates for whom they are cast,” it says.

The PO must then audibly count the valid ballots for each candidate, a counting agent may ask for a recount if not satisfied with the counting, but a recount will be allowed only once.

“A second recount could be granted but should be done at the collation centre by the Returning Officers,” it explains.

The EC states that after the count, the PO must complete the declaration of results form, (Form E.L. 21/22B) when the results are known and ask the counting agents to countersign the form. “If a counting agent refuses to sign, he or she should assign reasons in writing for failing to sign”.

The EC explains that in completing the EL 21/22B, the PO must indicate the number of voters who were verified biometrically, as well as those verified manually.

It cautions that the total number of ballots issued to voters in the Voter’s Register and proxy list, plus the rejected ballots must not be more than the sum of the valid votes for each candidate.

“When there is an excess, it must imply that foreign ballots were introduced into the ballot or more than one ballot issued to some voters.

“Results from such polling stations must be quarantined and a report made to the district officer for further action,” the EC said.

The EC said, when the ballot accounting is over, all segments and columns of carbonised result forms EL 21/22B are to be filled, the party agents and PO must endorse it.

The PO must “audibly announce the results of the election at the polling station, reading from the declaration of results form signed by counting agents and PO.

“The same procedures must be followed in the case of the parliamentary ballots to complete all segments and columns of Form 21/22A.”

After the results of each election at the polling station are audibly announced and copies of the carbonised form detached and issued to agents present, the original copies and other election materials are sent to the constituency centre under police escort”.

The GNA Tracks Election 2016 project seeks to sensitise the electorate on the various issues raised by political parties, the elections management body and other governance institutions.

It aims at ensuring gender and social inclusion in national politics and providing a voice for the youth, vulnerable groups, opinion leaders and the broader spectrum of the society, and to contribute to the achievement of peaceful polls.

Another objective of the project is to create a platform to dissect the manifestoes of all political parties and provide in-depth analysis of each thematic area to the electorate to enable them to make an informed judgement.

Source: GNA
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