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General News of Thursday, 17 November 2016

Source: dailyguideafrica.com

NPP welcomes EC's decision on pink sheets

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) says it welcomes the Electoral Commission's (EC) decision to address the serious issue of no serial numbers identified by the party’s representatives during the printing of the Pink Sheets by Aero Vote – the company contracted by the EC to do the job.

The NPP representatives were told categorically at the printing house that there would be no serial numbers on the Statement of Poll and the Declaration of Results Form (popularly known as Pink Sheets).

But the EC quickly moved to douse fear of possible rigging of the upcoming general election by saying that serial numbers would be embossed.

On Tuesday, the NPP had cause to complain about the omission of serial numbers on the pink sheets.

They also alleged that 3,000 extra copies of the said forms were without serial numbers, polling station names and polling station codes.

This followed briefing by Group Commander Caesar at the printing press who categorically said there wouldn’t be serial numbers on the electoral material.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), eight NPP representatives and two NDC representatives were received at the Aero Vote facilities by Group Commander Caesar, who introduced himself as the officer in-charge of the briefing. They were taken to the production section where the Pink Sheet printing was taking place. There they were showed a dummy copy of the original sheet, indicating the polling station name and code column without serial numbers.

“The NPP representatives inquired as to why there were no serial numbers and it was then that they were informed that there would be no serial numbers on the pink sheets. Upon their objection, the leader of the briefing instructed the NPP representatives to direct their concerns to the Electoral Commission,” a source in NPP told DAILY GUIDE yesterday.

EC’s Explanation

However, Head of Communications of the EC, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, in a statement yesterday, explained, “The Commission in its continuous quest of ensuring the credibility and transparency in the upcoming general election, 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.”

In respect of this personalization, and in anticipation of possible mistakes and cancellations by Presiding Officers on these forms, the Commission indicated that “provision has been made for the printing of 3,000 extra copies of the Forms to cater for such unplanned incidents.”

Mr Dzakpasu indicated that the 3,000 extra copies had been designed with a different colour, with the words ‘Replacement’ embossed on them for ease of differentiation, insisting, “The replacement forms cannot therefore be confused in any way with the personalized polling station specific forms.”

Denial

He also denied claims that ‘Aero Vote’ was awarded a contract worth $8.95 million for the printing of the Statement of Polls and Declaration of Results Forms. He insisted, “The contract awarded to Aero Vote by the Commission is way below $2 million in value (GH¢7.2 million).”

For the first time in the country’s electoral history, the EC revealed that “these forms will be printed in Ghana with enhanced security features that significantly boost the integrity of results collation in our elections.”

According to the election organizing body, for the first time, political parties have also been invited by the Commission to send representatives to the premises of the company during the printing of the Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results Forms, whiles police personnel would also be deployed to the premises during the printing process in a bid to allay the fears of the various stakeholders in the elections.

Relief

Hours later, the NPP also issued a statement welcoming the EC’s response to the concerns it raised.

“We are happy with the assurance from the EC that the right thing is being done now,” the statement underscored.

It believes, “If the identity of each Pink Sheet could not be verified with a unique serial number, it would undermine confidence in the electoral process.”

Whiles welcoming the EC’s response, the opposition party expressed the hope that with only 20 days remaining till election day, no more such issues would arise.