The EC's 'Strong Room' It's All About Fax Machines
7/6/2012 3:11:02 PM -
After voting on December 7, 2012, all attention would be focused on the outcome of the elections but one place that would serve as the centre of attraction is the Operations Room of the Electoral Commission, famously described by political parties as the “Strong Room.”
The Operations Room is where all provisional results are certified by the commission. That is where results are authenticated to show who has won or lost. The ‘Strong Room’ falls under the ‘Elections Department’ of the commission and is presently manned by one person, the head of the Operation Room.
It is in the ‘Strong Room’ that chairmen of the various political parties receive confirmation of results from their agents in the field or the polling stations in the various constituencies before they append their signatures. Indeed, that is the decision point, as due diligence is conducted with party officials at the grassroots before received results are signed.
Indeed, the crosschecking of information by the various parties and their agents takes time, and that is why certified results are delayed. In view of that, anxious supporters and members of the public turn to the media for provisional results.
Once the chairmen have signed the results after crosschecking them with their representatives on the ground, the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, also signs, declaring the results from the regions certified. After that, the results are photocopied and distributed to party representatives.
In the Operations Room, party representatives occasionally argue with one another on results that come from their strongholds and the arguments are sometimes heated. The ‘Strong Room’ is thus the fulcrum or hub around which the EC operates during election.
So What’s In The Strong Room?
The expectation of many is that the strong room is full of sophisticated gadgets. But that is not the case. The ‘Strong Room’ is all about fax machines-communication facilities. The ‘Strong Room’ has 10 fax machines connected to each of the 10 regions in the country. Every election year, for reasons best known to the EC, new numbers are given to each of the machines.
The ‘Strong Room’ is manned by the Head of the Operations Room, Mr Samuel Danquah. It also has two three-in-one seats, a centre table, a few chairs (some of which look old), a fridge, a television, and a computer.
It is usually a cool and quiet place. However, during elections, it is a very busy place.
According to the EC Boss, there is no law that allows party representatives to enter the ‘Strong Room’ but it is out of the desire of the EC to ensure transparency that representatives of political parties are allowed to witness the receipt of election results.
Shortly after touring the ‘Strong Room’, representatives of the various political parties from the Volta and Ashanti Regions wondered why the Operations Room was given the tag ‘STRONG.’
Indeed, the chorus among the party representatives was: “The Strong Room is all about fax machines”, since there was nothing mysterious or strange about the room, after all.
The party representatives were from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC).
The others are the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), New Vision Party (NVP), Independent People’s Party (IPP) and United Front Party (UFP).
“We thought the Strong Room had some sophisticated gadgets and other huge facilities,” the Deputy Women Organiser of the Independent People’s Party (IPP), Ms Joana Abunyewah, said.
Seeing the Strong Room, she said, had given her relief, since her expectation was very high.
The Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NDC, Mr Joseph Yammin, expressed similar sentiments indicating that he thought the ‘Strong Room’ was a huge or sophisticated facility. He said the tour of the place had been fruitful, as it had cleared the perception they had about the place.
The Ashanti Regional Coordinator of the NPP, Ms Abena Pokuaa Amoah, said the visit to the strong room had opened their eyes and she called for orderliness in the room when election results start trickling in after the polls.
A member of the PNC, Ali Aremeyaw, said the visit had “increased our level of confidence.”
Cheating in the room?
“We do not change any figures here. It is the information that we get that is fed us from the regions. Indeed we don’t have the capacity to change figures because the party representatives are here crosschecking with their people outside,” Mr Danquah said.
He said presently he was the only one occupying the room, and that during the elections other people are also assigned to the place.
The Assistant Head of the Elections Department, Mr Daniel Amanyo, said once results were received in the Strong Room by the EC officers, “we show them to the party representatives for crosschecking.”
There was no way, he said, any party could be cheated in the Strong Room, and added that it was duty of parties to work diligently at the polling station level.