The Electoral Commission has registered nearly 17 million Ghanaians to vote in the upcoming December 7th presidential and parliamentary elections. More females were registered as voters ( 52.46%) than males (47.54%).
The highest number of voters were registered in Greater Accra (3,509,805), followed by Ashanti Region (3,013,856), then Eastern Region (1,628,180).
Central Region came fourth (1,566,061), followed by the Western Region in fifth position (1,185,315), and the Northern Region in sixth position (1,047,539). The remaining regions are Volta with 929,322, Upper East with 653,730, Bono with 648,408, Bono East with 592,015, Upper West with 470,271, Western North with 465,444, Oti with 353,492, Ahafo with 315,827, Savannah with 295,648 and North East with 295, 648 registered voters respectively.
This paper focuses on constituency ranking in the Ashanti Region for analysis. It is the second in the series of papers to analyze the registered voters in the regions with the highest numbers of registered voters. It should be noted that the top three regions with the highest number of registered voters (Greater Accra, Ashanti and Eastern) constitute 48.1 percent of the total electorate in the country, short of the over 50 percent threshold required to win the presidential race.
The constituency rankings are placed into five groups of 55 constituencies each, which are referred to as quintiles. In this way, the first quintile will contain the first 55 constituencies with the highest number of registered voters, the second quintile will contain the next 55 constituencies and so on.
Table 1.2 below presents details of the 47 constituencies in the Ashanti Region by the number of Registered Voters, National Ranking and Quintile Category.
To preserve internal consistency, the analysis will be based on Table 1.2 with its total electorate of 2,986,810 instead of the 3,013,856 resulting from the last-minute mopping-up operation yet to be reflected in the distributional process of the constituencies. Moreover, this procedure will simultaneously maintain the impact of the analysis. From the Table, there are 12 constituencies in the first quintile, 12 in the second quintile, 8 in the third quintile, 7 in the fourth quintile and 8 in the fifth quintile.
The total registered voters in the 12 constituencies of the first quintile is 1,172,769 representing nearly 40 percent (39.2%) of the total electorate of the region. The six constituencies with the highest number of registered voters, namely, Kwabre East, Atwima Kwanwoma, Oforikrom, Ejisu, Asawase and Afigya Kwabre South have an aggregate of 658,610 registered voters which constitutes over 22 percent (22.1%) of the total registered voters in the region.
The 12 constituencies in the second quintile have an aggregate of 848,963 registered voters representing 28.4 percent of the total electorate in the region. The combined registered voters of the 24 constituencies in the first and second quintiles is 2,021,732 representing over two-thirds or 67.6 percent of the total electorate of the region, 39.2 percent attributable to the constituencies in the first quintile and 28.4 percent to those in the second quintile.
A careful noting of the distributional pattern indicates a broad spread of the highest ranking constituencies across the region. For example, the two highest ranking constituencies in the region, Kwabre East and Atwima Kwanwoma, as well as four out of the six highest ranking constituencies in the region, are all outside the Kumasi metropolis.
Furthermore, the distribution of the five quintile categories exhibits a monotonically decreasing function with respect to regional electoral share from 39.2 percent for the highest quintile 1, through 28.4 percent, 14.2 percent, 9.6 percent and 8.4 percent for quintiles 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. A test of reliability of the quintile category estimates is also provided by the fact that the sum total of the percentage shares of the five quintile categories is identically equal to 100.0 percent.
Even though Ashanti recorded the second highest number of registered voters, what is unique about Ashanti is a near population homogeneity united under a single King.
The impact of ethnicity and voting behavior is well documented in the literature. In Ghana, intellectuals such as Gyimah-Boadi, Zounmenou, and Adjei have written extensively on ethnic block voting among people of Ashanti and Volta. The voting pattern in previous elections from 1992 to 2016 attest to this fact.
Even though ethnicity and ethnic alignment will continue to be important factors in future elections, the variability and spread of registered voters in Ashanti is likely to affect this traditional voting trend. Factors other than ethnicity are likely to influence voting behavior in future elections.
Among the prominent ones are a). equitable distribution of resources, b). perceived impact of present government policies on the livelihood of citizens, c). citizen assessment of the performance of the government, and d). alignment with those appointed to high offices within the government.
The Electoral Commission data shows the total registered voters of 3,013,856, represents 17.8 percent of the total electorate in the country and a substantial distance from the majority threshold of over 50 percent to win a presidential election. Without support from the other regions, no single ethnic group in the country can muster political power. This calls for the need to place premium in educating people towards the building of a national identity over parochial ethnic identities. This is more likely to lead to unity among all groups in the country and likely to ensure lasting stability and national cohesion.
By Osei K. Darkwa, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor, University of Illinois-Chicago