Accra, Oct. 19, GNA - The Electoral Commission (EC) on Tuesday gave the assurance that it had put documentary, security and administrative measures in place that would effectively prevent any form of rigging in Election 2004.
"Improvement introduced into the registration process, would make it impossible for anybody or party to cheat, impersonation is completely out of the system," Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra.
Dr Afari-Gyan, however, called on political parties and the public to be vigilant at every level of the electoral process, saying: "Prevention of all forms of rigging requires the same level of vigilance from all stakeholders in the elections."
The EC Chairman said the current electoral process had been improved at all levels to prevent the anomalies that occurred in 1992, 1996 and 2000 to ensure absolute transparency and prevent rigging. Dr Afri-Gyan said the compulsory photo ID card system, workshops for operatives, including the returning and presiding officers, political party and candidate agents, the Judiciary and electoral assistants on the conduct and dos and don'ts of elections, were some of the steps to stem rigging.
"Despite all these measures put in place by the EC, if political parties and the rest of the public are not vigilant enough at all levels of the electoral process, the EC cannot be blamed for possible unorthodox practices of some electorate and party members," he said. The EC Chairman said the political parties were expected to mobilise their members to be actively involved in the electoral process at the levels of registration, filing of nomination, revision of register, voting, counting of votes, compiling and declaration of results. "Political parties are not supposed to sit back and make noise about the electoral process. It takes collective effort of all stakeholders to effectively prevent electoral rigging."
Dr Afari-Gyan said the EC had observed that most political parties and citizens became vigilant only at the voting, counting of votes and compiling and declaration of results levels, leaving room for anomalies such as double voting and falsification of identity of nominees at the registration and nomination levels.
This, he said, usually led to political party agents raising unnecessary objections and arguments through very unconventional means out of ignorance during voting and counting of votes.
"The EC is, therefore, holding workshops for all personnel who will be at the various polling stations to ensure that the incidence of foul cry is reduced to the barest minimum," he said.
Dr Afari-Gyan advised that under no circumstance should a registered voter give his or her voter ID card to anybody, "not to political party leaders nor to anyone for that matter."
He cautioned the electorate to desist from electoral fraud, saying that such an offence, when proved, attracted not less than six months' imprisonment.
He asked political party leaders to make use of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) as a means of channelling their suggestions to the EC, rather than making such suggestions at public forums.
"The Commission will not prevent anyone from making valuable contributions to the electoral process, provided it is done properly," he said.