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General News of Thursday, 15 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Leave polling stations after voting - EC warns voters

The Electoral Commission (EC) has directed all voters to leave the polling stations immediately after casting their vote on Election Day.

The directive is in contrast to an order by the executives of some political parties in the Eastern Region who keep asking their followers and supporters at their rallies not to leave the polling stations after casting their vote, so that they will help check illegal acts that will be perpetrated by their opponents.

According to the EC, those who would like to witness the counting of the ballot papers could, however, go to spots near the polling stations after 5 p.m. when voting had ended.

That, according to the Deputy Chairman of the EC in charge of Operations, Mr Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, would prevent confusion that would arise out of misunderstanding among opposing party supporters.

Mr Sarfo Kantanka, who is also responsible for electoral matters in the Eastern Region, gave the directive when he addressed parliamentary candidates in the region in Koforidua on Tuesday.

The event was organised by the EC and KAB Governance Consult and sponsored by the British Department for International Development (DFID) to brief the parliamentary aspirants on the ‘dos’ and ‘don'ts’ of the December 7 elections and preparations so far made by the EC towards the elections.

According to Mr Sarfo Kantanka, it was not the duty of voters to stay all day long at polling stations to check malpractice, saying it was the duty of EC officials, the security agencies and representatives of the contesting political parties who must be residents of the area to identify voters and ensure that the right thi!1gs were done.

To make it possible for people to exercise their franchise before 5 p.m. on voting day, the EC Deputy Chairman said the number of polling stations countrywide had to be increased from 23,000 to a little over 26,000, with each polling station catering for an average of 700 voters, adding that in all, there were about 14 million voters.

Answering questions posed by the parliamentary aspirants and the press, Mr Sarfo Kantanka said the ballot papers were being printed under tight security to make it impossible for any individual or group to have access to them.

The validation equipment, he stated, would prevent anomalies such as double and underage voting, as well as impersonation, saying, "We have spoilt the plan of many who intend to engage in impersonation and double voting."

He explained that in spite of those stringent measures, successful conduct of the elections would be possible only with the concerted effort of all stakeholders, particularly leaders or executives of the political parties, the EC and those it would engage, as well as the security personnel assigned to the polls.

"Every person assigned to the polling stations must see it as a national duty to be performed with honesty and fairness to all parties to produce a credible winner, so that the loser will congratulate the winner in a spirit of togetherness because we are all one people but with different political persuasions," Mr Sarfo Kantanka stated.

The Director of Finance of the EC, Mr Samuel Yorke Aidoo, said the commission would, from November 16, start training its staff and political party agents who would be attached to the polling stations to ensure that the proper things would be done on voting day.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Eastern Regional Director of the EC, Mr Paul Boateng, had called on the parliamentary candidates to refrain from insults and the issuing of threats to their opponents to make the elections peaceful.

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