Vote Buying Contributes To Spoiled Ballots

A senior civic education officer of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has said vote buying contributes to the high incidence of spoiled and rejected ballots in the national elections.

Mrs Florence Sackey said people intentionally spoilt ballot papers by voting for two or more candidates because they had collected money or gifts from the candidates to vote for them.

She has, therefore, urged politicians contesting in the upcoming general election to refrain from inducing the electorate with money and other essential gifts to influence their votes.

She said the practice was inappropriate and it could derail the efficiency in the country’s political system and it was also a dent on the country’s young democracy.

Mrs Sackey was speaking at a civic engagement forum with the Oguaa Branch of the Tailors and Dress Makers Association of Ghana, in Cape Coast. It was organised by the Commission with support from the European Union (EU).

It formed part of activities by the NCCE to intensify voter education, among the registered voters, and to deepen the interest of the electorate and encourage high voter turnout in the elections.

She also urged the electorate to desist from demanding or accepting money and essential gifts from politicians, adding that, voting for a candidate in an election was an independent decision that needed not to be influenced.

Mrs Sackey mentioned money, pieces of cloths, mobile phones, sewing machines and basins as some of the items often used by politicians to influence the electorates.

She said if the trend continued, it would get to a time when only rich people could contest for election at all levels in the country.

In 1992, rejected ballots accounted for 3.6 per cent of the total valid votes cast as against 1.53 per cent in 1996.

The first round of the 2000 Election also saw rejected ballots, accounting for 1.8 per cent of the total votes cast, while in 2014, it constituted 2.2 per cent of the total valid votes cast.

In 2008, rejected ballots went up, recording an overall 2.4 per cent of the valid votes cast, while in the 2012 elections, the number of rejected ballots stood at 2.3 per cent.
Mrs Sackey noted that a lot of people said they were reluctant to participate in the impending elections because they had not benefited from previous voting exercises.

She, however, urged them to participate actively in the elections as it was their civic responsibility.

She advised them not to wear any political party paraphernalia to the voting centres on the day of voting to ensure peace.

She called on political parties to complement the efforts of the NCCE by educating its followers on how to vote properly, adding that, voter education was a collective responsibility.

Some of the participants who spoke to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) commended the NCCE for the education and said it should not be limited to election periods but it must be a continuous exercise.