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General News of Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Source: Myjoyonline.com

NPP ‘pink sheet allegations’ empty, regrettable - EC

The Electoral Commission says the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) allegation that the Commission was scheming to rig the December elections by printing the Statement of Poll and the Declaration of Results forms, commonly referred to as Pink Sheets, without serial numbers is untrue and unbecoming of a political party.

A counter press release signed by the EC’s Head of Communications, Eric Dzakpasu, says NPP erred when it rushed to the media with unfounded claims of non-existent plans to manipulate election results.

“It very regrettable for a political party to engage in pre-emptive allegations and suspicions with the intention to unnecessarily heighten public tensions ahead of the elections,” the EC statement said.

The NPP issued a statement Tuesday, November 15, 2016, describing as an illegality the decision by the Commission to print the Pink Sheets without serial numbers.

According to the party, without serial numbers on the forms, they could easily be manipulated to favour a particular party.

“The Public Elections Regulations, 2016 (CI 94) in the Schedules part at pages 48 and 49 has a sample of the exact format that the law says Form Eight or the Pink Sheet for both parliamentary and presidential results should take.

Material to the issue today is that at the top left hand of Form Eight is space for the unique serial number for each form to be inserted,” the NPP had said.

However, in a swift rebuttal, the EC says the NPP could have checked with the Commission before proceeding to make such wild claims.
Tackling NPP’s claims in a 7-point explanation, the EC said the following:

1. The Commission in its continuous quest of ensuring the credibility and transparency in the upcoming General Elections has decided to personalise the Statement of Poll and the Declaration of Results Forms.

For the first time, the said Forms would be polling station specific and would, therefore, not require the exercise of discretion during distribution by Election Officials. Every Form would have embossed on it, the polling station name, the polling station code AND serial numbers.

2. In respect of this personalization, and in anticipation of possible mistakes and cancellations by Presiding Officers on these forms, provision has been made for the printing of 3000 extra copies of the Forms to cater for such unplanned incidents. These 3000 extra copies have been designed with a different colour, with the words "REPLACEMENT" embossed on them for ease of differentiation. The replacement forms cannot, therefore, be confused in any way with the personalised polling station specific forms.

3. It is false that Aero Vote was awarded a contract worth US$8.95 million for the printing of the Statement of Polls and Declaration of Results Forms. The contract awarded to Aero Vote by the Commission is way below US$2 million in value (GHS7.2 million).

4. We have been informed that no management staff of Aero Vote told officials of the NPP ‘that they have been told not to emboss serial numbers on the pink sheets”.

This is an untrue statement. The contract terms and security features on the Pink Sheets as agreed between the Electoral Commission and Aero Vote are clear to the contractual parties. Further, the NPP has no privity of contract with Aero Vote and therefore has no legal basis for engaging directly with the company (which is a vendor of the EC), on their contractual obligations to the EC.

Such enquiries should be made directly to the EC and not to a vendor. Vendors must be allowed the peace of mind and space to perform their contractual obligations to the people of Ghana through the EC. Vendors cannot and should not be reporting to political parties.

5. The NPP says in its Press Release, that “today, Aero Vote ….started the printing of the said forms”. Again, this claim is false. Printing of the Forms will start on Thursday, 17 November 2016.

6. For the first time in our electoral history, these forms will be printed in Ghana with enhanced security features that significantly boost the integrity of results collation in our elections.

7. Again, for the first time, political parties have been invited by the Commission to send their representatives to the premises of the company during the printing of the Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results forms. Police personnel would also be deployed to the premises during the printing process.

Already the governing National Democratic Congress has condemned the allegations by the opposition.

NDC Director of Elections, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo said the political parties have been briefed adequately about the EC’s plans and process in respect of the printing of the forms.

The EC has urged “political parties to desist from making unsubstantiated allegations about the electoral process and work with the Commission to deliver credible and transparent elections to the people of Ghana.”