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10.11.2004 Politics

EC launches handbook for polling agents

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Accra, Nov. 10, GNA- The Electoral Commission (EC) in collaboration with the Governments of the Unites States (US) and the Royal Netherlands on Wednesday launched Elections 2004 Handbook for Polling Agents. The ten-page booklet defines who a Polling Agent is, his functions at polling stations, the voting process, the Electoral process and practices and electoral offences.

Launching the booklet in Accra, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, EC Chairman said the presence of polling agents enhanced the credibility of the electoral process.

"The interests of candidates or political parties at all the polling stations are guaranteed as they report on activities at the centre to their sponsors and most importantly, certify the election results declared.

"Polling Agents act as watchdogs of the elections process. They draw the attention of the presiding officer to any irregularities at the polling stations and help to ensure that polling staffs and voters adhere to laid down rules and regulations," Dr Afari-Gyan said. Dr Afari-Gyan said polling agents could prevent fraud by detecting such violations as impersonation, multiple voting and improper behaviour of election officials.

The EC Chairman advised polling agents to collaborate with election officials- the Presiding Officer and Polling Assistants, to resolve disputes that might arise at the stations.

Explaining the duties of election officers at the polling stations, Dr Afari-Gyan said the presiding officer was responsible for the conduct of the election at the polling station, "he or she has complete control of the polling stations".

The duties include, setting up the polling stations, supervising the work of the assistants, inspecting the accreditation letters of polling agents, resolving problems that may arise, counting the votes, and announcing the results.

Ms Mary Carlin Yates, the US Ambassador to Ghana, together with the Royal Netherlands Ambassador, Mr Arie van der Wiel and Dr Afari-Gyan jointly launched the booklet.

The US provided 180,000 dollars to support the training of political party agents and the holding of district level Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meetings.

The Royal Netherlands is the co-sponsor of the training program and is providing 220,000 dollars.

The objective of the project is to ensure that political party agents are trained in the rules, regulation and procedures for the 2004 Elections, monitor and ensure overall transparency of the elections. Mr Laary Bimi Chairman of the National Commission for Civic Education chaired the function.

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