General News of Wednesday, 5 June 2013
Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, chairman of the Electoral Commission, ended his evidence-in-chief examination Tuesday, sounding a caveat that errors should not be misconstrued as wrongdoing.
Led in examination by his counsel James Quarshie-Idun in the ongoing election petition at the Supreme Court, Dr Afari-Gyan elucidated on a number of “irregularities” raised by the petitioners. Prominent amongst today’s testimonies included pink sheets without signatures of presiding officers as well as some controversial five pink sheets bordering on over-voting.
Speaking to the alleged over-voting in those specific polling stations, Dr Afari-Gyan admitted there were errors in the filling in, but was quick to add that as humans mistakes are bound to occur in the course of our work, adding that when detected those mistakes can be corrected.
“Errors are to be distinguished from wrong doing - intentional wrongdoing. A mistake is something that can be detected and corrected. We all make mistakes…”
Dr Afari-Gyan acknowledged that the EC appointed the presiding officers and are therefore prepared to take responsibility for their mistakes.
In the same vein, he advised candidates to also take responsibility for the agents they appointed.
However, the EC chairman acknowledged that under normal circumstances, his outfit does not expect a 100 per cent turnout at a polling station. So if the Commission sees more than a 100 per cent turnout there is no hesitation to annul the result, he pointed out.
Nevertheless, when there appears to be excess votes on the face of the pink sheet, the returning officer for the presidential election said, he will not immediately presume there is wrongdoing but rather, he will subject it to a “close scrutiny” before taking a “firm determination” as what to do.
Concluding his testimony, Dr Afari-Gyan said petitioners’ claim that results from polling stations with two different pink sheets be annulled should not be the case; in the case of the 22 unknown polling stations, he said they were part of the 26002 polling stations used for the 2012 elections.
On the allegation that a large number of people were not verified and that the votes be annulled, he disagreed because verification machines were provided at all polling stations.
Finally Quarshie-Idun asked him that as the chairman of the EC, what he was seeking the court to do to the petitioners' case.
Dr Afari Gyan replied that “the reliefs [of the petitioners] should not be granted. In the view of the commission no firm basis has been shown to merit the grant of those reliefs”.