Ghana: Electoral Commission Issues Voting Rules and Says No Verification No Vote

Ghana's Electoral Commission (EC) has advised would be voters on Friday to submit themselves to verification at the polling stations or they will not be allowed to vote.

Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan Wednesday addressed the media during which he reiterated rules to guide the conduct of the polls and assured that the Commission was ready to conduct a very credible, free and fair elections come Friday, December 7, 2012.

The elections ground rules, he said, had been agreed with the political parties and will be in force at all polling stations.

"Among the decisions we have taken with the political parties is 'NVNV- No Verification, No Voting,' and by verification we mean that everybody would have to be verified biometrically".

The Chairman however, said there were exceptions to the rule. "We know that some of our brothers have no hands at all; we also know from experience in the field that there are those who have fingers but we could not capture their fingers, the first category with no fingers at all we classify them as permanent trauma, and those who have fingers but we could not capture are temporary trauma, so this categories of people are known to the verification machine, so they appear with FO-Face Only. They are in a very small minority."

He told local and international media on Wednesday that judging from the smooth process of the early voting last Tuesday, he is convinced the process will start and end well.

"All the materials that we need to conduct the elections are already on the field, so we are ready to conduct the elections on Friday. From the exercise we did yesterday we can now say that we have a very robust machine that can do the job".

The Chairman also indicated that the voting process was not going to be long contrary some views that the biometric verification would delay the process. "We can also allay the fears of all those who were doing strange calculations, that it will take every voter just about five minutes to go through the process. If you make the calculation it can take a lot of people," Afari-Gyan stated.

The EC boss assured people who might have misplaced their voter identification cards that they can still cast their ballot at the centers they registered. "Those who lose their ID cards can also go to the polling station and vote. When we scan your finger your picture will appear and we can verify you; but make sure you use the same name as during the registration exercise."

He added that "We have agreed in principle that where the vote found in the ballot box outnumber the number of people verified to vote, the results of that polling station will be cancelled and we will re-run the elections if the result will make a difference to the winner. So where mathematically re-running the election will make a difference we will go back and run the elections."

According to him, all materials will go to the polling station on the morning of the vote. "In the morning of the poll we are touching over 26,000 polling stations. It is possible if there is no vehicular breakdown. Some stations may not be able to start on time but if they don't it's not a mathematical game. If you are in the queue you must be taken care of before the poll ends. If people are still in the queue all of them must be taken care off. "

As part of the measures put in place to avoid possible confusion and clashes at the polling stations during vote counting, Dr Afari-Gyan said the EC has agreed with the political parties in principle that it is only at the polling station that there can be a recount of votes. "If your agent does not ask for a recount and three days later you come to make a complaint we would not mind you".

The EC Chairman also said that vote recount will be done only once. "If there is any controversy the papers would be packed into the ballot box to the constituency center where the returning officer would supervise a re-collation of the ballots at the constituency."

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