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Opinion | Feb 17, 2019

"Elections Are Won At Polling Stations" Comment Is Unfortunate Dictum On Ghana

By Peter Antwi Boasiako || London, UK

Whoever said that "Elections are Won at the Polling Stations, has done a big disservice to Ghana democracy.

The comment made by the former Chairman of Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Afari-Gyan, that an election is either won or lost at the polling station, is the main cause of the problematic vigilante groups uncontrollably springing up in Ghana and sponsored by the political parties.

That comment by Dr Afari-Gyan, was made out of his frustrations and under pressure to disperse his outfits responsibility stemming from the failure to ensure an acceptable and plausible electoral process in the 2012 general election.

The EC boss comment used to difuse the responsibility of the mess caused in 2012 elections, has caused a massive injury in the minds of the political parties in Ghana and has permanently damaged the trust which a free, fair and transparent electoral process should rather produce a winner or loser in an election in Ghana without complaint.

Dr Afari-Gyan's comment was unfortunate censure on Ghana, which Ghanaians must seek to reverse that vehement expression that appears to be a curse. Ghana political actors must emancipate their minds from the bondage of mistrust for each other and rather demand a robust, sophisticated, transparent, fair and admirable electoral process of EC.

It is never true that elections are solely won or lost at the polling stations. That was an unfortunate comment which Ghanaians must discard it.

It must be appreciated that, elections are a process, not an event. In the pre-election period, the legislatures and state institutions develop or refine the legal and procedural framework in which the elections are conducted. This procedural framework, if are not perused carefully, can give unwarranted advantage to one party to win the election in weeks or months before the actual day for the election.

An "election is won at the polling stations" comment can also mean that, whichever unfair means and unscrupulous strategies adopted (including violence) by the parties on the election day, to get the votes casted and counted in their favour, does not matter.

The "e lections are won or lost at the polling stations", undoubtedly also makes the Electoral Commission and the Security agencies who are supposed to ensure a free, fair and credible elections, highly irresponsible of their duty.

The comment does not also promote an acceptable electoral system that could work to the admiration of all without violence or disgustingly loathsome means.

Simply put, "the elections are won or lost at the polling stations", is a lazyman's excuse to relinquish the statutory responsibility to ensuring credible elections, onto somebody else.

This is the most reason why all the political parties in Ghana, including the party in power, are clamouring for vigilante groups to protect the polling stations for them, because they are made to believe that the Electoral commission cannot ensure a fair and credible electoral process to get them their needed results. That is very unfortunate.

Dr Afari-Gyan, justifying his comment said, *"a well-organised political party can know its overall performance in an election from the polling station results provided by its agents."*

But the question is, what about the pre-election acceptable procedural framework that should help deliver a credible and unquestionable results at the polling stations? Whose responsibility is that?

Dr Afari-Gyan kept reiterating his lazyman's excuse, that when he said elections were won or lost at the polling stations and not in the Commission’s offices, political parties were initially skeptical.

“But I think the political parties now believe it, judging from the way they are trying to organize themselves at the polling station level.”

From any rational point of view, isn't this believe which the EC boss Dr Afari-Gyan instilled in Ghanaians, is causing the fear and mistrust in the political parties of losing the election at the polling station, leading to the threatening sprang of vigilantism in Ghana today? Coupled with the fact that the SWAT Police are used by the political parties in power to terrorize their opponents and by extension, used to protect the members of the vigilantes who may have perpetuated violence and atrocities at Talensi, Chereponi, Atiwa, including Ayawaso West Wuogo today?

There's no doubt that the EC of Ghana, has a daunting responsibility to make sure that it has erased the unfortunate suggestion made by its former Chairman, Dr Afari-Gyan, that "elections are won or lost at the polling stations". Not true, election can be won in advance, with bogus unfair election process. We can cite so many examples across the world.

Dr Afari-Gyan's comment has had substantial potential to kill the confidence Ghanaians are supposed to have in the EC and its electoral process. This is causing huge presentment amongst the political parties, hence, the springing up of the vigilante groups, sponsored by the political parties.

In some advanced countries, postal voting are even accepted. In that case, where would the polling stations be for the postal ballots that one has to win it by all means at that "postal votes polling station"?

Peter Antwi Boasiako

London, UK.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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