EC apologizes for electoral hiccups
The Electoral Commission (EC) on Monday apologised for some hiccups during the December 7 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections that caused undue delay at some polling stations.
Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, EC Director of Elections, explained that contrary to electoral directives, some Presiding Officers prevented the political parties from putting their seals on some ballot boxes.
He explained that the EC considered the period between the casting of votes and declaration of results as very critical in the electoral process and said the Commission had analysed the December 7 polls and had mapped up strategies to eliminate the hiccups during the Presidential Election Runoff scheduled for December 28 2008.
Mr Arhin stated this at the first of a series of forums being organised by the National Peace Council (NPC) for democratic stakeholders including National Election Security Taskforce (NESTF); EC; National Democratic Congress (NDC); New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Media.
The forum was a platform for the democratic bodies to dialogue on the December 7 polls and to offer recommendations for ensuring transparent, free and fair election on December 28 2008.
He directed Presiding Officers to allow party agents to affix their seal on the ballot boxes before the start of polls.
Responding to concerns by the political parties on the transfer of vote by students, who have moved back to their original residences, Mr Arhin said all that these students needed to do was to inform the EC District Officer for cancellation of the name from the absentee voters list.
Explaining the process of polling, the EC Director of Elections said at each polling station, before voting began, the Presiding Officer, being the officer in charge, was expected to inspect the ballot papers in the presence of Party and Candidate Agents and then to enter the total number on a form provided for the purpose.
The Presiding Officer also shows the ballot box to the Agents and any persons present for them to ascertain that it is empty, before sealing and placing the box in the open view of the public for voting to begin.
The Presiding Officer also takes account of ballot before and after the polls to determine the actual number of voter turn out; party agents are expected to take keen interest in the figures.
He debunked the notion that ballot papers were counted at the Collation Centres, saying its only re-collation which is done again.
He explained that any Agent, who is not satisfied with the counting, could ask for a recount at the Polling Station and the Presiding Officer must count again.
He said once everybody is satisfied with the counting, the Presiding Officer records the total for each candidate against his or her name on the Results Form for the polling station.
"He or she then signs the form which is also countersigned by each Agent present to certify that the results recorded on the form truly reflect the ballots cast at the polling station," the EC Director of Elections noted.
The Presiding Officer publicly announces the results there and then; and each Agent is given a signed copy of the Results Form to take to the party or candidate that appointed him or her.
It is to be noted that once the results of a polling station have been certified in this way, the ballot papers are not counted again anywhere, Mr Arhin stated.
Mr Victor Gbeho, Leading Member of the NDC, expressed reservations about the closure of the Ghana-Togo border by the National Security Council (NSC) during the December 7 polls, saying it sent wrong signals to a section of the population.
The forum appealed to the NSC to do its utmost to ensure that the elections are conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.