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Opinions of Friday, 18 December 2020

Columnist: K. Badu

This is un-Ghanaian: Did you really witness ballot stuffing, tossing, computerisation or blocking?

File Photo: Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7, 2020 to cast their votes File Photo: Ghanaians went to the polls on December 7, 2020 to cast their votes

At long last, the battle has ended. Ghana has indeed won the epic battle. Ghanaians are the ultimate victors in the 2020 general elections.

We are also most grateful to the domestic and international election observers such as the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), the European Union Observer Mission, the Africa Union Observer Mission, amongst others for concluding that the 2020 election was free and fair with only a few isolated incidents.

We are, therefore, most obliged to the Electoral Commission for conducting one of the best and peaceful elections in Ghanaian political history.

We would, however, take this opportunity to wish the losers better luck next time and congratulate the President-elect, Nana Akufo-Addo for his great sense of patriotism, solicitude and unparalleled predilection towards the wellbeing of Ghana.

That being said, some of us are really surprised to see the former president and the 2020 NDC flagbearer, Ex-President John Dramani Mahama and his teeming supporters claiming somewhat bizarrely that the Electoral Commission has rigged the 2020 general elections for the New Patriotic Party.

If, indeed, there are any merits in such claims, why are the NDC loyalists refusing to head to the law court for redress, but rather seeking to cause mayhem in the country?

It is also worth remembering that prior to the 2020 general elections, the NDC flagbearer, former President Mahama, vehemently ventilated his arousing disgust over alleged infractions in the 2020 voter register and hinted to reject the 2020 election results if the said infractions persist. So Mahama’s decision to reject the results is nothing out of the ordinary.

Somehow, former President Mahama’s stance on the 2020 election results reinforces the Asantehene, Otumfuo Nana Osei TuTu II revelation at the United Nations General Assembly’s High-Level Forum on Culture and Peace on September 13 2019 that in the interest of peace and security, he held several meetings with the 2016 presidential candidates, before, during and after the general elections and persuaded the losing candidate (Mahama) to concede defeat.

Back then, some of us, so to speak, were not the least dumbfounded to hear that the Asantehene had to persuade Ex-President Mahama to accept defeat in the 2016 general elections, in the sense that the former president had allegedly claimed earlier in his presentation at the Oxford University Business School Distinguished Speaker Seminar that the 2016 election was rigged (see: 2016 election rigged-Mahama; dailyguidenetwork.com/ghanaweb.com, 13/05/2019).


If that was to be the case, wouldn’t conventional wisdom then dictate that someone who seriously believed that the election had been rigged in favour of his opponent would hesitate to accept defeat?

More so, why did the then Electoral Commissioner, Mrs Charlotte Osei, only find it somewhat convenient to announce the 2016 election results after the former president had conceded and congratulated his opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo?

Ironically, though, former President Mahama and some other members of the opposition NDC blamed their humiliating 2016 election defeat on a technical hitch to both the Electoral Commission and the NDC’s results collation systems.

The former president would thus lament: “As I speak, I am not aware that the Electoral Commission has carried out any investigation into what compromised their IT system,” he complained, adding that political parties, as stakeholders, have not been briefed about what really corrupted the IT system of the EC.”

Ex-President Mahama continues: “Ghanaians, in the interest of transparency, want know what really happened during the last polls before the next election in 2020.”

When I was perusing through the bizarre story, I thought I was dreaming. But I was not, I was alive and kicking. The story was so weird, so to speak.

In fact, former President Mahama has blamed everyone and everything else for his historic 2016 election defeat except himself.

If you may remember, subsequent to the 2016 general elections, Ex-President Mahama was at his finger-pointing best when he bizarrely accused the NDC Executives of diverting 2016 electioneering campaign funds which culminated in his humiliating defeat.

The former president lividly poured his heart out when addressing NDC Executives in the Awutu Senya Constituency in the Central Region on Wednesday 26th September 2018 (See: We won’t allow campaign funds, logistics to be diverted – Mahama;citinewsroom.com/ghanaweb.com, 27/09/2018).

Ex-President Mahama is reported to have lamented: “I have noted all our mistakes. We realized campaign funds were diverted, but we have learnt our lessons. We will ensure campaign funds go through the right channel to get the campaign done. In 2020, we must rise up and be vigilant.”

In my opinion, vote-rigging constitutes a high crime, so if the National Democratic Congress faithful really have incontrovertible evidence of electoral fraud, they should cease disturbing the ambiance and present their case in the competent court of jurisdiction.

We should, however, not lose sight of the fact that electoral tensions before, during and after elections had culminated in conflicts in countries such as Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, amongst others.

It is however worth noting that the conflicts in those countries did not happen overnight; the perpetrators started the process gradually. They wanted to win power at all cost.

Apparently, the widespread violence following relatively orderly balloting in elections in Kenya on 27 December 2007 and in Zimbabwe on 29 March 2008 accentuate the significance of understanding the electoral tension before, during and after elections.

As a matter of fact, Ghana, your country, my country, must not and cannot go that way!

Of course, electoral violence before and during elections threatens the individual's right to vote, which is valued both as an opportunity to affect the outcome of specific elections.

The overarching question then is: who prevented some eligible Ghanaians from exercising their democratic rights in the 2020 general elections?

Some of us, as a matter of credibility, do not want to buy the seeming isolated thinker’s view that the Electoral Commission rigged the 2020 general elections for the ruling NPP government.

Of course, stuffing boxes with phony ballots and diddling with the count behind the scene are the old-fashioned ways to steal elections. Nevertheless, in contemporary Ghanaian elections, such villainous acts are arguably a thing of the past.

This is so because empty ballot boxes are opened to the view of the public before the elections commence.

It would thus seem inconceivable for anybody to claim that there were acts of ballot stuffing or vote-rigging in the just ended general elections.

Absolutely, there were no reported cases of fiendish or operable schemes such as caging, spoiling, computerization, tossing and rejecting in the 2020 general elections.

Caging

In most advanced democracies for example, caging may be used by the electoral fraudsters’ to suppress the opponent’s votes. The election officials would often draft “do-not-forward” first-class letters to selected groups, and would diabolically use letters “returned” to evidence that voters' listed addresses are fraudulent. The partisan election officials can then strike out the voters' names from registration rolls and/or throw out their mail-in ballots.

This can happen to Servicemen and women serving overseas, who choose to exercise their absentee voting from their home addresses. In the same vein, this may happen to students away at school and even to voters whose addresses on registration rolls contain fatal typos made by the election officials.

Spoiling

Ballot spoiling on the other hand, may occur in a number of ways. A popular one, for example, is to put punched-card voting setups in constituencies, or strongholds of the opposition party.

The election officials would then disqualify all votes where the voter did not manage to punch the hole all the way through, as in the infamous “hanging chads" in Florida in 2000.

“Computerization”

“Computerization" is used in most democracies. “Computerization" is the process of using computerized "black box" voting machines. These machines are notoriously subject to sophisticated, vote-changing "hacking".

Suffice it to stress that a great deal of damage is affected just by "glitches", where the machines simply fail to record votes. This is taken advantage of, in the simplest case, by placing the oldest and least reliable machines in the opposition party’s precincts or strongholds.

Tossing

Tossing is the fate of most provisional ballots. A wrongfully-purged voter, challenged at the polls, is given a provisional ballot. When the registration is checked later, the original, bogus, reason for purging is uncovered, and the ballot is tossed. There is no arrangement for seeking out and correcting invalid purging.

Rejecting

In some democracies for instance, rejecting happens to mail-in ballots when partisan election officials can find excuses, often frivolous, for not recording the ballots. An 'X' in a box instead of a filled-in box, for example, or a stray mark in some inconsequential place, or simply "losing" the ballot outright. The worst part is the voter never learns what happened.

In synopsising, if former President Mahama really feels cheated in the just ended general elections, he should emulate President Akufo-Addo and head to the Supreme Court.