"Changing The Closing Time Of Polls From 5pm To 3pm In 2024 Is Baffling And Mind-Boggling" - NDC
Director of Elections for opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Elvis Afriyie Ankrah has hinted that the Electoral Commission's (EC) decision to change the closing time of polls from 5 pm to 3 pm in the upcoming 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections is baffling and mind-boggling.
According to him, since the 1992 elections, polls have always closed at 5pm adding that it has worked perfectly without any challenges whatsoever.
Addressing Journalists in Accra, Mr. Ankrah said "Ladies and gentlemen of the media, the NDC finds the proposal by the Jean Mensah-led EC to change the closing time of polls from 5pm to 3pm in 2024 baffling and mind-boggling. Since the 1992 elections, polls have always closed at 5pm. This has worked perfectly without any challenges whatsoever. It, therefore, beggars belief that the EC would want to change this time-tested arrangement and go for a poorly thought-through alternative which is bound to disenfranchise eligible voters and create needless problems for our electoral system"
He added that even the 5pm-close sometimes becomes a problem since some centers experience delays in electoral materials and other technical challenges.
"Ghanaians will recall how a similar hasty decision by the EC to declare results within 24 hours after closure of polls in the 2020 elections failed miserably and led to the rushed declaration of patently flawed results that yielded a percentage aggregate of more than 100%, by the Returning Officer, Mr. Jean Adukwei Mensah. One would have thought that Jean Mensah would have learned the right lessons by now but that appears not to be the case"
"Friends from the media, our position on this proposal is simple. The current arrangement of closing polls at 5 PM has worked perfectly in seven (7) general elections in this country and does not require any fixing. Like the Chairperson said in her speech, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” he noted.
Further stressing on the reforms proposed by the Electoral Commission, the Director of Elections charged the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, and her deputy, Bossman Asare to first reform and change their attitude of arrogance and bias.
Touching on the substitution of periodic mass registration with continuous registration, he said "We wish to remind the Electoral Commission that the all-round continuous registration of eligible voters is not new. The law requires that the Commission put in place mechanisms to ensure that at any time that citizens become eligible to vote, they can be registered.
He stressed that continuous registration cannot be a substitute for periodic nationwide registration because the all-round registration can only be done at the district offices of the Electoral Commission.
"Secondly, political parties always assign agents to observe the voter registration process. It will therefore be ludicrous for the EC to suggest that political parties should employ permanent agents at their district offices to observe the registration of eligible voters all-year-round"
The NDC hinted that the proposal also comes against a major challenge of transparency in verifying the claims of prospective registrants at the district office level.
Highlighting the introduction of all-year-round voter exhibition exercise through the use of technology, he said "The proposal by EC to have a year-round exhibition is a laudable idea but cannot be a substitute for the periodic exhibition exercise of the voter's register that is normally done after voter registration. This is simply because the Voter exhibition exercise is not only intended to allow voters to verify and confirm their details but to also ensure ineligible registrants (minors and foreigners) are challenged and removed from the register"
Hammering on restricting data entry of election results to the constituency collation level and generate regional and national reports, the NDC argued and said "The proposal to have the entry point of data done only at Constituency Collation Centres will introduce another opportunity for rigging through hacking and other means of manipulation of the results. The way to build further efficiencies into the collation process and eliminate inaccuracies is to hire and train competent EC staff to ensure accurate data entry and collation and not to throw away the time-tested practice of collation at the national level"
The party also noted that data entry and collation must be done at the constituency level and sent to the national collation center for aggregation by the Returning Officer and political party representatives' participation.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah explained that that will ensure accuracy and transparency in the ag
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Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith