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General News of Thursday, 10 November 2016


EC will not change format of ballot paper - Kofi Dzakpasu

The Electoral Commission (EC) says it is taking steps to minimize the incidence of rejected ballots in next month's elections.

Head of Communications at the Commission, Mr. Eric Kofi Dzakpasu says the elections governing body is determined to ensure that candidates are credited with votes they deserve.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, he said, “we have had various views on how to reduce the incidence of rejected ballot. We are printing the ballot paper the way we used to but the thick black border line separating one candidate from the other will be widened.

“Such that any thumbprint which may overlap the column of a candidate will not be able to enter the box of another, as a means of reducing rejected ballot, which may be due to the improper thumb printing of the ballot paper,” he added.

In 1992, rejected ballots accounted for 3.6 per cent of the valid votes cast and reduced to 1.5 per cent in 1996, but in the first round of the 2000 general election, it accounted for 1.8 per cent of the valid vote counts and reduced to 1.58 per cent during the presidential run-off.

The figures soared in 2004 and constituted 2.2 per cent of the votes cast while in 2008 they took 2.4 per cent of the valid votes cast.

The number of rejected ballots recorded in the first round of the 2008 presidential race was unprecedentedly higher than ever, both in terms of percentages and in terms of absolute figures.

According to the Electoral Commission of Ghana, as many as 205,438 ballots were rejected in the 2008 elections, which constituted 2.4 per cent of the total of 8,671,272 votes cast.

This number was described hypothetically as the “Rejected Ballot Party” in the 2008 presidential race.

In the 2012 general election, 251,720 rejected votes (2.3 percent), were higher than the total votes secured by all the other presidential candidates, excluding those of the NDC and the NPP.

Although some have raised concerns about the structure in which the ballot paper will be printed and the wastage that might occur with rejected ballots, the EC says it is dealing with the problem.

In a response to what the Commission intends to do in case candidates whose disqualification have not been overturned pursue a court action, Mr Dzakpasu said the Commission is yet to receive any complaints.

However, “until such time that we have a dispute, we may have to be talking about the means of resolving such issues, if possible including an alternative dispute resolution mechanism,” he noted.

Other fingers can be used in thumbprinting

Mr Dzapkasu said the notion that only the thumb can be used in voting is not accurate.

According to him, Ghana only chose the thumb for the sake of standardization and uniformity, the middle, index or little finger can used in voting once there is no other mark on the ballot paper.

“So if a person uses any other finger they would not have spoilt their ballot. The important thing is that there is a print and this print is so conspicuous that it can be counted,” Me Dzakpasu said.

Proxy Voting

In the case of proxy voting, Mr Dzakpasu debunked claims that there is a bloated list with as many as 250,000 people.

He also described as untrue the perception that the EC is unable to put out the proxy list because it is not in order.

“We want to put on record that yesterday, we gave out the message to all the candidates and the political parties to bring their external drive to have the proxy, transferred voters and special voting list loaded for them as required by law.

“And contrary to the misconception, we have 534 people on the proxy list…on the special voters' list, we are talking about 55,001 people and on the transferred voters list 238, 892 people.”

EC’s Next Steps

Mr Dzkpasu said having completed the nomination process, the immediate process will be to print the notice of poll and the ballot paper.

All these things, he believes, should take place in the coming weeks to avoid a disruption in the electoral calendar.