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EC Must Allow Polling Agents On Special Voters List   
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The Let My Vote Count Alliance is alarmed by the intention of the Electoral Commission not to allow polling agents of candidates to be added on the Special Voters List for them to vote before polling day in the 2016 general elections.

Public Election Regulations, 2012 (C.I. 75) allows for election officers and others, particularly, security agents, who because of their special duties on polling day may not be able to vote (and at their polling stations) to vote before polling day.

Our understanding is that the EC made it clear to political parties at the last IPAC meeting that it had no intention to allow polling agents to join the list Special Voters. We are perplexed by this decision. It goes against all that the nation is seeking to do for future elections: enhancing vigilance and credibility.

We think it would be a big blow to all the serious efforts to increase vigilance if the EC goes ahead with this. Limiting political parties or candidates to choose their agents just from the very polling station area those agents are to be recruited to work will be most odd and counterproductive. That is why LMVCA is asking the EC to reconsider this decision for the sake of having credible polls in 2016.

Allowing polling and counting agents to be Special Voters will benefit all political parties (without exception) and their capacity to deploy their best agents in polling stations across the country. We will, therefore, urge all political parties to resist this intention or decision of the EC.

In 2012, the EC denied political parties and journalists the opportunity to cast their ballots earlier as special voters. This was detrimental to the necessary task of effective monitoring of the polls and the result was woefully felt, at least, on the face of the ‘pink sheet’, the results declaration sheets.

Media houses could not do freely what they were able to do in previous elections where journalists were allowed on the Special Voters List. This reduced the opportunity for several media houses to deploy their best personnel widely, especially in the several known hot spots across Ghana.

Public Election Regulations, 2012 (C.I. 75) says in Sections 19 and 35 that each candidate, parliamentary or presidential, is allowed to recruit two agents for each polling station on polling day: a polling agent and a counting agent. The EC has announced that it intends to have 30,000 polling stations for Election 2016, adding 4,000 more voting areas to the 2012 number.

This means that a party with a presidential candidate and parliamentary candidates in all 275 constituencies is entitled to have a maximum of 120,000 agents deployed in all polling stations nationwide. These are huge voting numbers, also.

We believe candidates must be allowed the flexibility to recruit widely to deploy widely based on need. We have seen in previous elections certain parties scoring zero in difficult polling stations where they thought they had at least two polling agents. The EC should not frustrate efforts of candidates and parties to search afar for credible agents to help protect the ballot.

In a country where election results can be determined by a small margin of 40,000 votes, the parties should not be forced into making the difficult choice of losing votes for the sake of picking vigilant people to protect the ballot.

The Supreme Court made it clear in its election petition judgment of 2013 that polling agents are equally as important (if not more so) as Presiding Officers and their presence was held as important to even validate an otherwise irregular electoral process. If so, let us give polling agents the special voting rights to go with the special polling responsibilities we have given them.

We hope that the EC will reconsider its decision and allow polling agents and counting agents, as well as journalists, to vote prior to polling day for the general electorate as Special Voters.

Ibrahim Adjei
Source: Peacefmonline.com

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