The Police has been asked to investigate all election–related offences and work with the Office of the Attorney General to prosecute the offenders as deterrence to impunity.
Political parties and their candidates have also been called upon to denounce supporters who engage in hate speech and acts of violence.
This was contained in a statement by the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) International, an Observer Mission to Ghana’s December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The statement said political parties should disband party affiliated vigilante groups, and encourage party youth to engage peacefully in electoral and political processes.
It commended the Security Services for the roles they largely played positively and professionally at the polling stations. “Nearly without exception, the Police and other security services deployed within the polling stations maintained a non-intrusive profile, and managed both queues and disputes in a calm and professional manner,” said the statement.
The statement noted that in the months leading to the elections, Ghanaians expressed grave concerns about hate speech and the propagation of misinformation, particularly, through social media.
“In one notable case, the Electoral Commission’s (EC) efforts at voter education were almost undermined by a rumour that texting a voter ID number to a contact number established by the EC to help voters determine their polling station locations, would cause the voter’s name to be deleted from the voter register,” it said.
The NDI also noted that whilst most journalists ensured responsible, objective and issue-oriented election reporting, others did not responsibly verify information received before broadcasting, which contributed to the rumour mill.
“In an example of good practices, the Citi Fm deployed approximately 200 trained reporters and volunteers across the country to provide accurate reportage on Election Day,” said the NDI adding that, “likewise, the technology focused nonprofit organisation, Penplusbytes, set up a Social Media Tracking Center, to monitor and respond in real time, to postings on social media platforms.”
It tracked emergent trends, verified incidents, passed information on to relevant stakeholders and identified false reports.
The NDI observed that voter turnout was satisfactory, with special consideration being given to the elderly and pregnant women.
It said party agents from the two major parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), were well represented in almost all the polling stations, adding that, these agents also conducted themselves in a mutually respectful manner.
Non-partisan citizen observers were deployed in significant numbers in almost all of the polling sites visited, the statement noted, adding that the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) for example, deployed 8,000 citizen observers across the country.
The delegation noted a significant reduction in the number of rejected ballots, compared with previous Ghanaian elections, which indicated successful voter education efforts by the EC, civil society organisations and the media, it said.
The statement urged the EC to undertake thorough post-election review of the conduct of the 2016 polls, both internally and with election stake-holders, and adopt appropriate recommendations on improvements to the process in order to attain and consolidate best practices.
It also urged the Government to initiate electoral reforms in the next legislature, prioritising issues such as revising the current voter register, or developing a new one, in order to ensure that all eligible Ghanaians had a genuine opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
The NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, working to support and strengthen democratic institutions world-wide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.