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Opinions of Saturday, 22 August 2015

Columnist: Asamoah-Siaw, Kofi

We need complete electoral reforms

The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) wishes to bring to the attention of the Electoral Commission (EC), stakeholders in the election management process, the international community and other political parties that there are serious lapses in our election processes. These lapses have the potential of compromising the integrity of the next presidential and parliamentary elections. We identified these lapses and brought them to the attention of the EC as early as 11th December, 2012. On 2nd September, 2014, we re-submitted our proposals for electoral reforms in a response to a letter from the EC on the Electoral Reform Committee.
Regrettably, on both occasions the EC did not acknowledge receipt of our letters and our proposals for electoral reforms were mysteriously excluded from the EC’s compiled document titled “Proposals for Electoral Reforms”. Subsequently, the EC did not include the PPP in the formation of the Electoral Reform Committee despite persistent protests to the EC in a number of letters written in September, 2014. Undoubtedly, the PPP has been at the forefront of the campaign for immediate electoral reforms to address all the perennial challenges with our electoral processes.
In the wake of the heightened debate for a credible voters’ register, the PPP wishes to indicate that the lack of a credible voters’ register is one of many problems with our electoral processes. We wish to indicate that we need to identify a permanent solution to this cycle of complaints and counter-claims about the need to compile a new register almost every four years. We should be tired of wasting our scarce national resources in this manner.
Our proposed solution to this problem is for the EC to save time, money, logistical deployment and management time by employing the National Identification System database for the compilation of the next voters’ register. We will not support the compilation of a new register if we are going to employ the same method of registration as we had in 2012. That will not solve the problems of minors on the register, foreigners on the register and the statistical inaccuracies associated with the register. We believe in continuous registration where citizens who turn eighteen years and wish to vote will visit the district offices of the electoral commission to register at their own convenience throughout the year.
We reproduce our proposals for addressing other challenges with our electoral processes.
1. The EC must enforce the Political Parties Act and disqualify parties that do not meet the minimum criteria within the next three (3) months. We recommend that the EC begins the process immediately to put in place steps for the verification, documentation and auditing of campaign funding.
On the matter of voting we recommend that the EC moves to a fully electronic voting system similar to those found in Brazil, Mexico etc. with some minimum conditions:
• Votes are transmitted electronically to two separate locations.
• International observers are allowed full access to the entire process and there shall be no closed door sessions at the polling stations.
• Two internationally recognized audit firms, under 50%/50% contracts with local audit firms, audit the results independently and cross-check each other’s work.
• The electronic voting machinery should be designed by a Ghanaian technology firm in partnership with an international major in technology.
• The voting machine will be designed such that "rejected ballots" shall be zero. Each political party that meets the Political Parties' Law criteria to become a political party will be granted a seat on the board of the voting machine company. We can no longer accept a system where over 250,000 votes are not counted. 250,000 votes are enough to decide an election.
We require these major and bold changes to our electoral system to guarantee the integrity of the 2016 elections. Ghana deserves better than this rigging machine that we have put in place to elect our presidents and parliamentarians.
Kofi Asamoah-Siaw
National Secretary