7 December 2012

Ghana: Today Is D-Day - Let's Accept the Freely-Expressed Will of Our People

column

The long-anticipated 7th December 2012 D-Day for Elections 2012, is finally here, bright and sunny.

By mid-night today, most of the 275 Member of Parliament (MPs) for the sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic would have been known. While the chosen few would celebrate into the early hours of December 8 and beyond, the over a thousand other contestants, who lost, would be counting the costs of their misadventure into partisan politics.

The Chronicle urges all contestants, especially the losers, to accept the verdict of the people, since our electoral process, which would throw up the winners later today, is a tested and proven one, and has been used in all elections in the country for some 31 years now.

The method of voting to be used today, as in all elections of the Fourth Republic, was first used in this country in 1979, following the restoration of democracy after the 1966 coup d'état that overthrew Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, in the elections in which Dr. Hilla Limann (PNP/CPP) defeated Mr. Victor Owusu (PFP/Danquah-Busia) in a run-off.

And what is this proven method of voting that we are talking about? A registered voter reports to a designated polling station, the officials check and confirm that he is indeed registered; he is given a ballot paper; he goes into an enclosed space in full public view, and thumbprints the candidate of his choice; he comes out and drops the folded ballot paper into a ballot box in full public view, marked 'Presidential.'

The same process is then repeated for the "parliamentary poll. Much earlier, before the voting starts, the presiding officer would have demonstrated to the satisfaction of the public that the two ballot boxes had not been pre-stuffed.

At the close of voting at 5:00 p.m., or shortly thereafter, the votes cast are sorted into different bundles; one each for the competing candidates, and counted separately and entered in the official result sheet in the presence of accredited party agents, local and international observers, and other members of the public, who voted last. All the party agents and the presiding officer then sign the result sheet, and each party agent is given a copy.

A most clear and simple process! Where in the process is room for the shenanigans that lazy politicians, looking for excuses for their failure, have been shouting from the roof-tops? And for which reason they have been raising blood cuddling war songs?

Admittedly, some "kululu" can happen in between collation centres. But any honest politician, who is not looking for ways to mend his ill-fortune after the results had been declared at the polling booths, has no business going to a collation centre, once he has certified polling booth results from all polling stations.

All that he needs to do is to return to his constituency, regional or national head office, and carefully and diligently total all the result sheets his agents have brought from the polling stations. Once a politician follows this process, he would know the true result long before the EC comes out with its results from the same elections.

This is probably what Mr. Victor Owusu got his aides to do in 1979, as a result of which he called a press conference to concede victory to Dr. Hilla Liman, while the presidential run-off results were still being announced constituency by constituency on GBC.

This method of boycotting of the collation centres by the political parties is the surest way to enable the Electoral Commission prove its integrity beyond all doubts. And The Chronicle recommends it to all the political parties. Even if it were so inclined, the EC would not dare to bring out any results but the authentic ones.

The current practice, where every two-bit politician tramples on the integrity of the EC for no justified reason, is a cul-de-sac that profits nobody. It merely promotes the avoidable tension that engulfs the nation every election year, and turns the whole country into a heavily policed security zone on Election Day.

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