The Upper East Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Bruce Ayisi, has proposed a scientific study of the issue of rejected ballots to ascertain the causes, effects and significance of the phenomenon in election management.
Mr Ayisi, who made the proposal at a regional review meeting of the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections in Bolgatanga on Wednesday, said this would allow for the institution of relevant interventions that would minimise the incidence of rejected ballots in future elections.
According to him, the high number of rejected ballots which also re-emerged in the last elections affect the quality of voting in the sense that, those ballots do not add to the ballots that determine the 'winners' or 'losers in an election.
"The situation is more serious when the number of rejected ballots outstrip the margin by which a winner in a parliamentary election beats the runner-up in Ghana," he said.
Mr Ayisi said although the 2012 elections were very peaceful and commended the security agencies and residents in the region for cooperating with the EC to ensure successful elections, he said the region suffered from the effect of poor commitment and disloyalty of some polling staff who were not the EC’s permanent staff, and recommended that the EC should consider applying sanctions to both temporary and permanent staff of the commission whose conduct undermine the integrity of the electoral process.
Similarly, he said, a reward scheme could be instituted to honour hardworking personnel to serve as motivation for high performance.
He called for broad consultation on the issue of polling agents, adding that such efforts should help to build confidence among political parties, the polling agents and the EC to pave way for proper co-ordination of training activities to enhance their performance.
Mr Amadu Sulley, Deputy Chairman of EC in charge of Finance and Administration, said the commission anticipated a possible breakdown of the biometric verification devices mainly because it was the first time such a system was being used and proposed that the manual verification process should be used alongside the biometric one instead of the commission’s critical stakeholders, -the political parties- insisting on 'No Verification, No Vote.' That, he explained, created a big challenge that resulted in the disenfranchising of many eligible voters.
Mr Amadu, who is also the EC Commissioner for the Upper East Region, said the failure by field officers to adhere to simple operational instructions such as the need to replace the batteries of BVDs every four hours, induced the numerous technical problems encountered on polling day.
He gave the assurance that all issues raised would be critically and appropriately dealt with in order to improve the process in future elections.
The Upper East Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Pontius Pilate Apabey, said since some voters would queue many hours before voting starts and ends, coupled with the fact that counting in most rural areas continued deep into the night, resulting in some difficulties, the EC should amend the voting time so that it takes place from 6 am - 4pm. Mr Amadu replied that such a decision would require broader consultation with key stakeholders.
Some participants called on the EC to be firm and stick to its own rules and not allow political parties to dictate what it should do. Others also called for the resourcing of the NCCE to enable it embark on voter education.
Political parties, with the expection of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), election officials, faith-based organisations, traditional rulers, civil society organisations and the media participated in the forum.
It was organised by the EC, in collaboration with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the KAB Governance Consult.
Source: Daily Graphic
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