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Politics of Thursday, 5 November 2020

Source: Peace FM

Silence isn't golden here; respond to EC now! - Kweku Baako charges NDC

Seasoned journalist, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako has challenged the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to respond to the Electoral Commission's (EC) statement on the party's allegations.

The NDC, over the weekend, accused the electoral body of colluding with one of the seven printing houses printing the ballot papers, the Assembly Press which the party says belongs to an appointee of President Nana Akufo-Addo.

NDC Allegations:

The party alleged, at a press conference on Sunday, November 1, 2020, that the EC is printing about 150,000 surplus ballots aside from the 5 percent required excess ballot papers per polling station.

“By convention and practice, the EC prints an extra 5 percent of the total registered voters in each polling station to cater for spoiled ballots but what is surprising this time is that the EC is rather printing an addition 5 percent of the total registered voters per constituency in the total number of ballot papers to be printed. What this translates into is that more ballot papers are being printed in excess of the 5 percent extra ballot papers required for the polling station. From the ballot statistics from the printing houses as coming from the EC, we (NDC) have analyzed the figure from 13 regions and observed that there is an excess of over 150,000 ballot papers been printed beyond the extra 5% required.”

“This happened at the Assembly press which is one of the contractors printing the ballot papers, and we (NDC) also found out that, the Assembly Press is printing additional ballot papers at a different location on the blind side of the agents of the political parties. The NDC is completely upset with the irregularities as the MD of the Assembly Press who is an appointee of the President was an aspirant who contested the NPP 2020 parliamentary primaries in the Nkawkaw constituency and the Convener of Let My Vote Count Alliance, a pressure group of the NPP.”

EC Press Statement

Reacting to the NDC's allegations, the EC issued a press statement to clarify the matter.

''The Electoral Commission finds it difficult to understand why the NDC would seek to cause fear and apprehension around a transparent and open process such as the printing of ballots. This is unacceptable.''

The Commission settled the facts saying ''it has been a standard practice for the Commission to print ballot papers in excess of five percent (5%) to cater for instances such as spoilt ballots. This has been the practice since 1992 and the present Commission has not changed this policy. In line with this policy, all Printing Houses have been directed to print the 2020 ballot papers in excess of 5% for all thirty-eight thousand, six hundred and thirty (38,630) Polling Stations across the country. It is important to note that since 1992, ballot papers for both the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections are printed in booklets of 10, 25, 50 and 100 for all Polling Stations''.

''This has always been the practice and the NDC is well aware of this. For the information of the General Public, all Political Parties have accredited Agents in all the Printing Houses who monitor and keep a 24-hour watch of the printing process. The transparency and openness of the process make it impossible for any Printing House to manipulate and compromise the process as all printing is done in the full glare of the Agents of the Political Parties'', the EC added and assured Ghanaians that ''each ballot paper will be accounted for. Not one ballot paper will be included in a package that has not been accounted for. This will not happen. Our processes are open, transparent and robust and will remain so''.

Kweku Baako Dares NDC

Speaking on Peace FM's ''Kokrokoo'', Kweku Baako Jnr scrutinized the EC's press statement and reading portions of it queried the NDC to respond to the pertinent issues broached by the electoral management body.

''The Commission has never provided the Political Parties with serial numbers of ballot papers. The Commission cannot generate the serial numbers of all seventeen million (17m) plus ballot papers. True or False? The NDC, what is their position on this?

''As has been the practice, serial numbers are generated by the Printing Houses and are provided to both the Commission and Political Parties after each batch of printing is completed. True or False? What has been the precedent since we began our election history? They should come out and tell us'', he stated.

On allegations that the EC hasn't provided serial numbers of the ballot papers to the political parties, the seasoned journalist asked the NDC to furnish Ghanaians with answers to the Commission's clarifications which reads ''the packaged/bagged ballots are sealed by both the Electoral Commission and Political Parties. Indeed, each Political Party fixes their party seals on the packaged ballot papers. The Political Parties take a record of all seal numbers of each packaged ballot. The packing of the ballots is undertaken in the presence of all the Agents of the Political Parties''.

''True or False?'' he questioned.

Mr. Baako also sought the NDC's response to the Commission's reply on their accusations that it has colluded with the Assembly Press.

He asked the NDC to tell Ghanaians how falsehood in the EC's reply that ''the Assembly Press is a State institution which at any point in time is headed by Appointees of an incumbent Government. It is also a well-known fact that the Assembly Press headed by Appointees of the NDC printed 1992, 1996, 2000, 2012 and 2016 ballot papers''.

''True or False? Did they know? Can they challenge these details...?'' he further queried.

''Let them be bold and put it out there. In reaction to this November 3rd press release from the EC, the response shouldn't be that of silence. Silence will not be golden in this context...They should respond to the EC press statement dated November 3rd, 2020'', he concluded.

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