EC Reveals Election Strategies

The Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) on Monday made known new strategies to ensure successful organisation of the 2016 general election. Mr Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, a representative of the EC made the announcements in Accra at the launch of the Joint Party Support and Strengthening (J-PASS) programme to support and strengthen political parties in Ghana. It was organised by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Mr Asamoah said the commission has decided to appoint collation agents who would not take part in the election processes but would only collect results from returning officers and collate them in order to avoid mistakes. He said the commission is also going to mount big screens which would make counted results very visible to every voter so that people could attest to every result put out there to prevent all kinds of misunderstandings. He noted that it is part of the plans of the commission to set up a strong security force to maintain law and order during the period of the elections. Mr Asamoah added that the intensiveness and frequency of activeness of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee and political parties at the district, regional and national levels is key in ensuring the successfulness of the 2016 election. �The commission has also decided to introduce the two biometric verification devices concept to every polling centre so that there will be another verification device to substitute one when it breaks down�, he said. He said that there is going to be provision of a digital radio that is going to make every result gathered available for all voters especially the strong room of the commission for everyone to easily get access to all information and explanation. The EC representative indicated that there is going to be a bi-participant policy in the electoral reforms which would cover both the administration and structural aspects. However, the commission is only capable of ensuring that the administrative portion of the reform works effectively to ensure successful elections. Mr Asamoah stipulated that many factors serve as obstacles towards the effective delivery of services by the commission, including insufficient training of polling staff due to inadequate resources and equipment. He said although, the EC may be independent in its operations, they are not independent financially and that really serve as a hindrance to effective delivery of services. He explained that insufficient budgetary allocation by the central government is also a big hindrance to their operations as a democratic body. He therefore proposed that authorities should attach meaning of the electoral fund to ensure financial autonomy of the commission. �There is lack of adequate electoral education to deepen electoral confidence in stakeholders. Lack of trust of residents in remote areas in democracy and elections as a whole also makes our operations difficult.� He urged law makers to amend the EC act to create an electoral process time frame to guide their operations during electoral processes. He advised political parties not to time frames during electoral processes as periods to campaign and securing injunctions since that serve as a hindrance to the successful operations of the EC. Representatives from the National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People�s Party, Progressive People�s Party (PPP) and People�s National Convention and EC endorsed the measures put in place by UNDP to secure a successful election in 2016. However, Mr Kwabena Agyapong, General Secretary of NPP said the party expects the EC to publicly display the collation sheets and give to every political party detailed sheets to secure their confidence in the commission since they hardly understand the summary ones they are often given by the commission. Mr Samuel Kofi Asamoah, General Secretary of PPP demanded for explanation from the EC on why they at times the officials find it uneasy to declare the electoral results. He also requested for declaration of results by the EC in small rooms to be done in a more opened area to make the results more accurate. Representatives of the other political parties said they are going to participate in every move by UNDP that is going to ensure a successful organisation of the general election. Ms Jane Owiredu Yeboah, Head of Governance, UNDP said the participating political parties qualified for the engagement based on a number of selection criteria including their active involvement in the Joint Parties Elections Result Monitoring (J-PERM) project of 2012, evidence of holding internal elections over the past four years, record of and participation in natural elections and by-elections as well as their level of grassroots mobilisation of membership. She said J-PASS and J-PERM recognizes that internal democracy, gender equality and election results monitoring are key to improving public and political party confidence in 2016 election results. She added that being conscious that Ghana lags behind the sub-region in the percentage of elected women representatives, the project would seek to address some of the criteria bottlenecks of women leadership within political parties.