Demarcations of the Electoral Boundaries

INTRODUCTION

To facilitate the organization of national and local level elections in Ghana, certain structures have to be put in place.

These are:
(1)               Constituencies -

                   Currently there are over two hundred and thirty (230) constituencies distributed proportionally among the Ten (10) Regions.   Constituencies are for the election of the people’s representatives to Parliament.

(2)               Electoral Areas-  

About five thousand (5000) electoral areas are distributed among the one hundred and fifty-eight (158)

Districts of the Country.   Electoral Areas are for electing the peoples representatives to the District Assemblies.

Units -

About fifteen thousand (15,000) units are in the country. The units are designed to fit into the Electoral areas and are for the election of the peoples representatives to Unit Committees.

Polling Stations

Currently there are twenty-one thousand and four (21,004) Polling stations in the country. The polling stations are the places where voters go to vote on election day.  Voters are assigned to these polling stations permanently.  This has resulted from the principle that “where you register is where you vote” Polling stations are designed to fit into the Units.


DEFINITION OF DEMARCATION

The process of putting these structures into place is called DEMARCATION.  Demarcation involves delimitation and delineation.  When we describe the determined boundaries on paper, like we have done in our Forms D.1 and D2, we are said to have delimited the boundaries of the area and when we draw the boundaries on a map, that is delineation.

          The process of demarcation is a difficult and complex one.  Most of the activities involved in demarcation are undertaken in the field.  Field work involves
1.  data collection by well-trained staff supplied with logistics and guidelines.
2.  processing of collected data at the district/regional offfices where information is formated into D1s and D2,
3.  forwarding of copies of D1s and D2s by the Regional Directors for verification and coding by the IT Department.

          The preparations of the forms D1 and D2 are finally completed by the IT Department to form the basis of the compilation of voter’s registers.  For the demarcation of the Electoral boundaries to be acceptable to all stakeholders, consultations are held with traditional authorities, opinion leaders, political parties, District Assemblies, members of Parliament, etc, etc.

Problems
*   Inadequate public education my deprive the exercise the openess it requires. 
* Inappropriate interventions and undue influences, may result in gerrymandering i.e certain electoral boundaries may favour particular party and candidate unduly. 
*   Chieftancy and land dispute may block the access of field staff to reliable sources of information. 
*   Lack of dependable source documents may also impede acess to reliable information.
*   If the field worker is a local person, his own biases may also affect the quality of data he presents.

PRINCIPLES OF DEMARCATION

          Demarcation is not done haphazardly but in accordance with principles which are contained in the 1992 Constitution and other relevant laws.  Demarcation therefore is done according to law.
          The following principles inform the demarcation of electoral districts
*             No electoral district should fall in more than one administrative district.
*             Each electoral district should have population as equal as possible to a predetermined population quota.
*             Certain specific factors such as existing traditional boundaries, barriers to transportation and communication, and the distribution of different ethnic or language communities maybe taken into account.
*        However, for administrative convinience these special factors may be ignored.

    

DEMARCATION STEPS
Within the context of the guiding principles the demarcation of constituencies proceeds along the following interrelated steps.       
i.  The determination of the total number of constituencies
ii.  Distribution of constituencies among regions.
iii.      Distribution of the constituencies assigned to a region among the districts within the region.
iv.  The drawing of the constituency boundaries on the ground in cases where a district has more than one constituency.
v.  Consultations with stakeholders including district assemblies and traditional authorities to resolve issues that issues that might have arisen.




LAWS RELATING TO THE DEMARCATION OF ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES
*                    Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana names the Electoral Commission as the final authority in the demarcation of constituency boundaries. 
*                    Article 47 of the Constitution of the 1992 Constitution provides the factors to be taken into account in the demarcation of constituency boundaries.
*                    Article 48 of the Constitution of the 1992 Constitution provides the procedure for the resolution of grievances, which may arise out of the demarcation of electoral boundaries.
*                    Section 2(b) of a Electoral Commission Act, 1993.  Act 451
*                    Representation of the people (Parliamentary constitutuencies) instrument, 1992 L. I. 1538

The Role of the Commission

The Electoral Commission, as the authority empowered by the Constitution and the laws of the land to demarcate the boundaries of constituencies and electoral areas has to see to it that:

*                    It is neutral , objective  and non-partisan in its approach to the  demarcation exercise.

* the appropriate rules and regulations are applied in its demarcation exercises
* the needed resources are procured and applied effectively.
* the staff who undertake the exercise are well trained and  adequately motivated in order to prevent the incidence of bias.
* the exercise is well monitored and co-ordinated.
* data collected from the field exercise is well processed and stored.
* the petitions arising out of the exercise are resolved
* the necessary consultations are made with stakeholders including  the Attorney General’s Department and the Ministry of Local government.
* the necessary instruments giving legal backing to the newly demarcated boundaries  are drafted and put before parliament.
* the newly drawn electoral boundaries are put into effect.
* the necessary linkages are established between electoral boundaries and administrative boundaries.

The Role of Traditional Authorities


Traditional Authorities, as the custodians of the lands which make up the territory of Ghana, are the sources of information used by the Commission to determine the boundaries of electoral districts.


This is because the electoral boundaries have to take cognizance of traditional boundaries. Traditional boundaries are ignored only to satisfy administrative convenience. Traditional Authorities also help the Commission determine the appropriate names and suitable area centers (headquarters) for the newly demarcated areas.  Traditional authorities have to provide the Electoral Commission with reliable information.


The Role of the Government
     The Government is responsible for resourcing the Commission in all the exercises it undertakes and must do this promptly as the Commission’s activities are time bound.


Establishment of polling stations and registration centers

(Where you register is where you vote)
*                    We usually say that where you register is where you vote so when we do demarcation, we mark out the boundaries of the constituencies, divide each constituency into a number of electoral areas, create polling divisions within the electoral areas and establish polling centers within the polling divisions.
*                    A polling station is so located within the polling division that a voter does not have to travel more than three (3) miles or five (5) kilometers to go and vote and if there is more than one polling station within a polling division, a voter does not bypass one polling station to another on polling day. 
*                    The polling stations also serve as registration centers during the registration of voters’ exercises. 

Demarcation helps to decide who qualifies to vote.  It also determines where one has to vote so that come election day one only has to make ones way to the assigned polling station which should be very close to once place of residence (and no where else) in order to exercise ones franchise.