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Feature Article of Sunday, 28 October 2012

Columnist: Badu, K.

The Squinty EC And The Paradox Of Proxy Voting

It should not be seen as a mere squint-eyed disposition if one avers that EC’s stance on the supposedly proxy voting in the forthcoming general elections is similitude to a comedy show- the British all time best situation comedy called only fools and horses. Like the ‘Only fools and horses’, EC boasts of funny and pertinacious characters.

It is true that a number of countries around the world allow proxy voting in elections, but the fact of the matter is, it is commonly used by active-duty soldiers and other citizens who know they will not be present at election time, to vote in person. Unlike Ec of Ghana, those countries that practice proxy voting include all registered citizens abroad whose other commitments may not allow them to be present at the time of the elections. Paradoxically, the EC of Ghana is seeking to engage in selective proxy voting-encompassing government appointees and selected students who are on government scholarships.

Interestingly, critics claim that proxy voting may be susceptible to abuse. For instance, delegated relatives may choose to vote for their own preferred candidates and thereby ‘robbing’ their foreign based relatives of their voting rights. Because of the fraudulent and unfairness nature of the proxy voting, some countries have ceased its application, or have modified the system.

For instance, “though various jurisdictions in the United States have historically allowed proxy voting, it is currently outlawed under federal law”. “A similar but fundamentally different procedure, called absentee voting, is allowed”. Absentee Voting allows registered voters of active-duty members of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marine, Public Health Service and their family members; and other United States citizens who are living outside the U.S. for work, school or other reasons to exercise their voting rights. The foreign based U.S registered voters simply fill a form and request for absentee ballot. The voted ballots can be posted, emailed or faxed (www.fvap.gov).

Ironically, Electoral Commission is indulging in double standard in carrying out its duties as obliged by the constitution of Ghana. For instance, Act 699 of the Representation of the People's Amendment Law (ROPAL), which replaced the PNDC Law 284, directed the EC to register all Ghanaians who are qualified to vote. So, why are the people at the helm of EC mulishly sticking to the Pndc Law 284 which had been repealed and amended, and therefore does not exist?

In fact, the EC is in a state of ambivalence, in the sense that it is the same ROPAL which allowed the EC to carry out the registration of prisoners including homicidal scumbags such as armed robbers and murderers. On the other hand, EC is refusing to apply Act 699 of the ‘ROPAL which allows the registration of our brothers and sisters in Diaspora whose remittances help boost our economy. But, in bizarre circumstances, we also hear EC is in the process of registering a few individuals abroad-including all government appointees and students on government scholarships. If this is the case, then I daresay it is unfair on the rest of Ghanaians who were not sponsored by the government, but chose to live away from home due to multifaceted reasons.

The inquiring minds would like to know: Why some Ghanaians should be treated as second class citizen just because they have chosen to live thousands of miles across the Atlantic? As a matter of fact, it is absolutely wrong to register a section of Ghanaians abroad and shamefully discriminate against the others. If indeed the Electoral Commission has gone ahead and registered some Ghanaians abroad-government appointees and selected students on government scholarships, clearly, then, the EC has a case to answer in the near future. In any case, it is incumbent upon all discerning Ghanaians to engage in serious introspection.

In all honesty, EC is discriminating against those of us who are not government appointees, but have chosen to travail abroad to meliorate our lives, and, in the process, supporting the economy back home. So, what is the sense in alienating the ‘gargantuan boosters’ of the economy, and ridiculously including nation wreckers-armed robbers and murderers in jail? .

Caveat: By seeking to register only government appointees and selected students on government scholarships, EC may be flouting Article 296 which states: “Where in this Constitution or any other law discretionary power is vested in any power or authority, that discretionary power is deemed to imply a duty to be fair and candid”.

I daresay that the introduction of the proxy voting would be seen as an excoriation on the progress made so far in our democratic dispensation. In other words, it would be seen as “poison in honey”. If I may ask: What is the essence of the introduction of the Biometric registration and verification? It is important that we move forward in valence and refrain from prankishness which may jeopardise the national ambiance.

K. Badu, UK.

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