The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has said that in spite of the initial hiccups that greeted the recent limited registration and photo-taking exercise, all is now set for the December 7, 2008 general elections.
He was also glad that the nomination of presidential candidates also passed off smoothly without any incident.
Describing the registration as tumultuous, he was glad that most of the problems associated with the registration had been fixed and the ground is set for the elections.
Speaking at an Editors' Forum in Accra on Tuesday, the electoral commissioner hinted that over five hundred thousand (500,000) duplicate registrations could be deleted before the day of the polls.
“I believe the storm is over in terms of the registration exercise,” he said.
According to him, the commission had deleted 390,000 names at the last count and noted that another 200,000 could be deleted soon.
He said in order to drastically reduce the incidence of spoilt ballot a number of measures have been put in place in this year's election.
Dr. Afari-Gyan said one introduction as far as the ballot paper is concerned is that the margins between the candidates have been made thicker than ever before so that controversies over clarity of ballot are avoided.
Apart from voters now having the entire column on the paper, be it the face of the candidate, emblem and the space, the EC boss hinted that unlike previously where only the right thumb was used to vote, any of the ten fingers can be used this time to vote.
And as if these were not enough, he revealed that a voter can decide to use a pen or pencil to express his intentions by making any mark at all in the column of his choice, and that would be accepted.
He explained that some of the problems the EC encountered had to do with the trooping in of foreigners and minors to register.
“In the past years limited registrations only recorded between 600 and 800, but this year we had 1,800 fresh names in the register, which is alarming”.
He lamented that the over-registration had stretched the commission's resources, prompting them to call for fresh budget.
“Let me tell you that beyond deleting the names from the register, those involved in multiple registrations would be handed over to the police for investigation and prosecution”.
On the conduct of the election, Dr. Afari-Gyan said materials would get to all 22,000 polling stations only on the morning of voting day.
He said in all 110,000 temporary staff have been employed to help in the exercise.
He admitted the EC has challenges in the area of carrying logistics to remote areas but added that it would take the media, security agencies, politicians and the general public to make the elections successful.
To Dr. Afari-Gyan, one of the best things to have happened to Ghana's electoral system, and which makes it unique among emerging democracies in the world, is the total parallel tabulation system, which makes post-election details verifiable.
“If we play our roles very well, there is no reason why we should not have peaceful elections,” he concluded.
By Bennett Akuaku