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General News of Thursday, 8 September 2016

Source: Class FM

EC to simplify voting process

The Electoral Commission (EC) has said it is hoping to reduce spoilt ballots during the upcoming December 7 elections to below one per cent by simplifying the voting process.

The high number of rejected ballots recorded during national elections has been a major concern to stakeholders over the years and have been attributed to the lack of voter education by the EC and National Commission for Civic Education.

Speaking on the maiden edition of the Electoral Commission’s Ask The EC programme, Deputy Commissioner of the EC in Charge of Operations Alhaji Amadu Sulley said the EC would embark on a voter education drive and also simplify the process to address the situation.

“You realise that in some cases, in other jurisdictions, people think if an electoral administrator should commit an error, it should go to affect the results. ...But in our laws, it is very explicit that the error committed by an electoral administrator does not invalidate the vote cast by the voter, so it’s very important that the facility is created so that if I come to vote, you make the voting so simple. The ballot is so simplified and it is explained to the voter on how to cast his or her vote so that you don’t vote and at the end of the day, they say you did not vote properly and the vote is rejected. So, here again, the commission is putting mechanisms in place to ensure that we realise or underscore the importance of the voter,” he stated.

However, political scientist and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Kwesi Jonah, who also spoke at the programme said the voter education drive should not be the burden of only the Electoral Commission.

“Let us put the emphasis on the voter, let us make the voter aware of all the rights that he or she has to enjoy as far as the election rules of this country are concerned and not manipulate the voter. …When the voter knows his or her rights, he or she will be able to make a more effective contribution towards the success of the election process than ever before. But unfortunately, we haven’t placed the emphasis on educating him about his or her right and what he or she can do. I am totally against putting all the responsibilities on the EC. What does it take to educate the voter? Why should the EC stop the difficult work they are doing to [educate the voter]? It shouldn’t be state-centred… We as civil society institutions, we must also play our role in all these and in fact some of us are doing what we can, but it shouldn’t be the responsibility of only the EC,” Dr Jonah noted.

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