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Politics Fri, 15 Jun 2012

EC to create more constituencies ahead of 2012 polls

The Electoral Commission (EC) is in the process of reviewing the country’s constituencies to create new ones, following the recent release of the final figures of the 2010 population census.

Speculation had been rife since last year that the EC would create new constituencies following the government’s announcement of the creation of 42 new districts.

But the EC had insisted that the creation of new constituencies for the December 2012 would not be automatic.

There have also been concerns, particularly from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), over the essence of creating new constituencies in a period very close to the 2012 general election.

However, speaking at a forum organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) in Accra Thursday, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the EC, stated that the creation of new constituencies was a constitutional responsibility of the EC, especially when new census figures had been released.

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The forum, on the theme, “Using the Media to Enhance the Transparency and Credibility of the 2012 Elections“, sought to provide a platform for the EC to inform the public about its strategies and programmes towards the attainment of free, fair and peaceful elections in December.

The forum was the second in the series that the GJA had held with three principal state institutions concerning their election-related mandates and preparations towards the 2012 general election.

Article 47(5) of the 1992 Constitution mandates the EC to “review the division of Ghana into constituencies at intervals of not less than seven years, or within 12 months after the publication of the enumeration figures after holding of a census of the population of Ghana, whichever is earlier, as may, as a result, alter constituencies”.

The EC, in 2004, increased the number of constituencies from 200 to the current 230.

According to the EC, it might create 45 more constituencies to make the current figure proportional to the newly created districts.

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The EC boss, who spoke on the topic, “The EC’s strategies for addressing key challenges of the 2012 Elections”, said unlike during the biometric voters registration exercise when one registration kit serviced four polling stations, on election day each polling station would have its own verification machine.

He, however, said in the event of the failure of a verification machine to function, the alternate procedure to be used in identifying the voter would be determined in consultation with the political parties.

Dr Afari-Gyan said based on experiences from the biometric registration, the EC was keenly mindful that training some 23,000 officials to handle the verification machine properly posed a real challenge but was optimistic that the it would ensure hands-on training for those who would operate the machines.

He bemoaned the increasing monetisation of the electoral process in Ghana and observed that, among other things, the development had the tendency to create a situation where, with money, politicians could buy not only the votes of the poor but also unprincipled election officials to corrupt electoral outcomes.**

Source: Daily Graphic