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No Cash For EC!… Another ‘Tot Tot’ Assembly Election In The Pipeline
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The upcoming District Assembly elections are likely to experience same setbacks it encountered four years ago, following the government’s inability to release funds to the Electoral Commission to meet its financial commitment.

As at end of March 31, 2014, US$24,205,752.00, or GH¢55,455,377.83 out of over $54 million budget had been released to the Electoral Commission for the conduct of the elections in the 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

The remaining US$30million, according to sources within the EC, is yet to be released, prompting fears that the elections might end up in a “tot by tot” exercise, as described by some Members of Parliament in the last district assembly elections. This phenomenon, The Chronicle understands, is weighing heavily on the EC, as monies meant for training officers contracted by the Commission to man the equipment to be used for the proposed limited biometric voter registration exercise, scheduled for Friday July 25, 2014, have not been forthcoming.

About sixteen constituencies in the Eastern Region have not had training with regard to the handling of the equipment for the voter registration exercise. Some of the areas include Kwahu North, Kwahu South, Kwahu East, Abuakwa and Kwahu West. Apart from the budgetary constraints, logistics for the registration exercise have partly been affected as cartridges and lamination materials are in huge deficit.

Hand-held scanners to scan information on the voter registration forms, according to sources, have deliberately been omitted from the list of items for exercise. That means, should any of the collected data during the registration exercise be altered, there wouldn’t be any back up information to verify and correct the records.

The deficit in the materials for the registration exercise is expected to put a burden on the political parties, especially, at heavily populated areas where registration for first-timers is expected to go up. The District Assembly elections which was scheduled for October this year had to be postponed indefinitely due to delay in releasing funds to the EC, thereby, also affecting the date for the limited biometric voter registration exercise to begin.

The limited biometric registration exercise was expected to take place on June 2014 but had to be postponed to Friday, July 25, 2014 to afford Ghanaians who turned eighteen years as well as those above eighteen years and could not register due to circumstances beyond their control after the last registration exercise in 2012 to do so. The District Assembly Elections is a non-partisan, grassroots decision-making process to choose representatives and unit committee members for an electoral area to assist in the effective management of the district.

Per the dictates of the District Assembly Elections Act, Act 473, “elections to a district assembly shall be held every four years, except that the elections shall be held at least six months away from parliamentary elections”. The process, has on numerous occasions, suffer setbacks mainly due to the lack of release of funds.

In 2010, such elections were rescheduled in eight out of ten regions in the country, prompting fear that it might have serious repercussions on the country’s electoral system. The glitch experienced that time was best described by some Members of Parliament as “tot by tot” elections. Verifying the above mentioned issues has not been successful as several calls to the Director of Public Affairs of the EC, Christian Parry, did not yield any results.

He would neither pick the call nor return it. The Deputy Minister of Finance, Ato Forson, when contacted also promised to furnish The Chronicle with details of releases to the EC for the conduct of the District Assembly Elections but at time of going to press, such details had not been released.
Source: Chronicle

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