The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has been observing the on-going voter register exhibition exercise being carried out by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana since Monday, July 18, 2016. CODEO trained and deployed observers to all the 275 constituencies throughout the country.
CODEO observers have been observing the voter register exhibition at randomly sampled exhibition centers across the various constituencies and the observers spend one full day at a selected exhibition center and move on to another center the next day. CODEO observers have observed a total of 1,118 exhibition centers in 6 days (July 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, and 26) in the first and second weeks of the exercise, and their findings form the basis of this interim statement.
Highlights of Findings
Opening, Set-up and Accessibility of Exhibition Centers According to the EC, the official time for the Exhibition Centers to open and close is from 7:00AM to 6:00PM daily. CODEO observers were therefore tasked to observe and report on each day’s opening time for the exercise.
In this reporting period, they observed that 74% of all centers observed commenced the exercise by 8:00AM (33% by 7:15AM; 41% opened between 7:16AM-8:00AM), and 22% opened between 8:01AM-10:00AM. With regard to accessibility of centers, the exhibition centers were largely found to be accessible to the elderly and persons with disabilities but for 10% where they were not.
Presence of Party Agents, Security Personnel, Unauthorized Persons & General Turn-Out CODEO observers reported generally low presence of party agents at most centers visited. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) had party agents in 32% of the centers visited by CODEO Observers; the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had 22%; and the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) had less than 1%. Agents of the other political parties were not present at the centers.
CODEO observers reported seeing stationed uniformed security personnel at approximately 4% of centers observed and unauthorized persons at only 4% of the centers. Overall, CODEO observers reported generally low turnout at centers visited. In about 84% of centers visited, less than 50 prospective voters turned out to check their names per day.
Availability and Functioning of Biometric Verification Devices Ninety-six percent (96%) of exhibition centers visited by CODEO observers had biometric verification devices (BVDs) at the time the centers opened. The observers report that at 84% of centers visited, BVDs were able to verify the biometric details of all registered voters who showed up with their voters’ IDs.
The devices could however not verify either one (1) or two (2) registered voters who showed up at 8% of centers observed per day. Finally, observers reported that in 6% of centers visited, the BVDs failed to function properly at some point in time during the day.
Compliance with Voter Register Exhibition Rules and Regulations Reports from CODEO observers indicate that in 88% of centers visited, registered voters were asked to show their voter ID cards before checking their names. In 5% of centers observed, CODEO observers reported that some voters who showed up were not biometrically verified. At all the centers observed
by the CODEO observers, the EC exhibition officials allowed all registered voters who showed up at exhibition centers to check their registration details.
CODEO observers reported that objections against names in the register on the basis of death were raised at 5% of exhibition centers, while objections on the basis of age were raised at only a few exhibition centers (1%) visited. In one case, however, an observer reported of objection on the basis of nationality at a center.
CODEO Observers reported of few incidents, such as intimidation and harassment of exhibition officials and registered voters, at few (2%) of the centers observed.
On the basis of the above findings, CODEO makes the following recommendations as the exercise enters its third and final week:
Public awareness campaign must be intensified by all key stakeholders, especially the EC and NCCE. The awareness campaign must highlight the implications of failure to verify one’s biometric voter registration details. Such public education should also aim at enhancing people’s understanding of the other purposes of the exhibition exercise such as ridding the voter register of ineligible persons.
Political parties must significantly scale up their support for the on-going exhibition exercise, given all the issues that have been raised about the voters’ register in relation to its credibility, and see it as a good opportunity to aid the process of ridding the register of ineligible persons.
Political parties should use the remaining days of the exhibition exercise to encourage registered voters to go and check their registration details.
Registered voters are also entreated to take advantage of the remaining days of the exercise to visit exhibition centers, verify their details and support the EC in its efforts to clean the voter register.
CODEO acknowledges that the voter register exhibition exercise typically attracts lower turnouts than the registration and Election Day exercises. However, the exhibition exercise remains an important event on the electoral calendar and all efforts must be made to encourage registered voters to participate.
All stakeholders, particularly political parties, the media and civil society organizations,must contribute to public awareness of the exercise. This, CODEO believes, will contribute to a credible and more accurate voter register for the 2016 polls. CODEO has also noted with appreciation reports of few incidents happening at the centers and hopes that this generally calm atmosphere will prevail during the final week of the exercise.
CODEO observers will continue to observe the exercise till August 7, 2016 when the exhibition process comes to an end. CODEO will subsequently share its final and comprehensive observation findings on the entire exercise. CODEO’s observation of the voter register exhibition exercise forms part of its comprehensive citizens’ participation in the 2016 electoral process, a project made possible with the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
National Coordinator, CODEO
Dated: Friday, July 29, 2016
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