Closing polls at 3:00pm mind-boggling; NDC rejects IPAC proposals

The opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC, has shot down all the proposals made by the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) on the management of the country’s subsequent elections.

The party, which has boycotted recent IPAC meetings after the 2020 election, at a press conference on Thursday said that the proposals by IPAC will rather lead to serious challenges.

The press conference was in reaction to a communiqué issued by IPAC following a 2-day workshop to review the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections which the NDC did not attend.

The communiqué indicated that IPAC had made 16 resolutions aimed at improving subsequent elections in the country. These resolutions include the change of the closing of polls from 5:00pm to 3:00pm.

Also, it was agreed that the voter registration exercise be made all-year-round for persons who are eligible to vote to register.

But Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, the Director of Elections of the NDC, said the party does not agree with the resolutions.

Concerning the review of the time for closing the polls, he said, “NDC finds the proposal by the Jean Mensah-led EC to change the closing time of polls from 5:00pm to 3:00pm in 2024 baffling and mind-boggling. Since the 1992 elections, polls have always closed at 5:00pm. This has worked perfectly without any challenges whatsoever. It, therefore, beggars belief that the EC would want to change this time-tested arrangement and go for a poorly thought-through alternative which is bound to disenfranchise eligible voters and create needless problems for our electoral system.”

On having an all-round voter registration exercise, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah said it will be untenable to have political party agents stationed at the various EC offices all the time to monitor the registration of new voters.

“Continuous registration cannot be a substitute for periodic nationwide registration because the all-round registration can only be done at the district offices of the Electoral Commission. Eligible voters may have to travel several kilometers to district offices to register and not everyone can do this.”

“Secondly, political parties always assign agents to observe the voter’s registration process. It will therefore be ludicrous for the EC to suggest that political parties should employ permanent agents at their district offices to observe the registration of eligible voters all-year-round,” he said.

Read the NDC’s full response to the IPAC proposals below:

1. Closure of polls at 3pm in 2024
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, the NDC finds the proposal by the Jean Mensah-led EC to change the closing time of polls from 5PM to 3PM in 2024 baffling and mind-boggling. Since the 1992 elections, polls have always closed at 5PM. This has worked perfectly without any challenges whatsoever. It therefore beggars belief that the EC would want to change this time-tested arrangement and go for a poorly thought-through alternative which is bound to disenfranchise eligible voters and create needless problems for our electoral system.

This is particularly so given the undue delay we usually record in the delivery of electoral materials to some polling stations and other technical challenges that usually characterize voting in this country.

Ghanaians will recall how a similar hasty decision by the EC to declare results within 24 hours after closure of polls in the 2020 elections failed miserably and led to the rushed declaration of a patently flawed results that yielded a percentage aggregate of more than 100%, by the Returning Officer, Mr. Jean Adukwei Mensah. One would have thought that Jean Mensah would have learnt the right lessons by now but that appears not to be the case.

Friends form the media, our position on this proposal is simple. The current arrangement of closing polls at 5PM has worked perfectly in seven (7) general elections in this country and does not require any fixing. Like the Chairperson said in her speech, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

2. Substitution of periodic mass registration with continuous registration.

We wish to remind the Electoral Commission that the all-round continuous registration of eligible voters is not new. The law requires the Commission to put in place mechanisms to ensure that at any time that citizens become eligible to vote, they can be registered.

However, continuous registration cannot be a substitute for periodic nationwide registration because the all-round registration can only be done at the district offices of the Electoral Commission. Eligible voters may have to travel several kilometers to district offices to register and not everyone can do this.

Secondly, political parties always assign agents to observe the voters registration process. It will therefore be ludicrous for the EC to suggest that political parties should employ permanent agents at their district offices to observe the registration of eligible voters all-year round.

This proposal also comes against a major challenge of transparency in verifying the claims of prospective registrants at the district office level.

3. Introducing all-year round Voter Exhibition exercise through the use of technology.

The proposal by EC to have a year-round exhibition is a laudable idea but cannot be a substitute for the periodic exhibition exercise of the voters register that is normally done after voter registration. This is simply because the Voter exhibition exercise is not only intended to afford voters the opportunity to verify and confirm their details but to also;

a) ensure ineligible registrants (minors and foreigners) are challenged and removed from the register.

b) help clean the names of dead people from the register.

C) afford voters the opportunity to confirm their captured biometric features.

And this cannot be achieved through the system the EC is proposing.

Given the errors that occurred in the run up to the 2020 elections when this system was deployed and the fact that not all Ghanaians have mobile phones to assess this system, it cannot be a replacement for periodic Voters Register Exhibition.

4. Restrict data entry of election results to the constituency collation level and generate regional and national reports.

The proposal to have the entry point of data done only at Constituency Collation Centres will introduce another opportunity for rigging through hacking and other means of manipulation of the results. The way to build further efficiencies into the collation process and eliminate inaccuracies is to hire and train competent EC staff to ensure accurate data entry and collation and not to throw away the time-tested practice of collation at the national level.

Data entry and collation must be done at constituency level and sent to the national collation center for aggregation by the Returning Officer and with the participation of political party representatives. This will ensure accuracy and transparency in the aggregation of constituency results for free and fair election results declaration.

Click here to read the NDC’s full statement

 

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