7 December 2012

Ghana: Percentage of Votes Needed to Win a Presidential Poll Contentious - Daasebre Oti Boateng

As the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections approach, there are still persistent but misleading assertions in sections of the media and some corridors of power that the number of votes needed to determine a winner in a presidential election must be 50 percent plus one vote.

"This assertion, which does not appear anywhere in the 1992 constitution of Ghana, seems to be gathering momentum despite earlier writings and challenges that it is a complete misrepresentation of the clear and simple constitutional provision that a winner of a presidential election must obtain more than 50 per cent of the total number of valid votes cast at the election".

This was contained in statement issued in Koforidua on Thursday by Daasebre Professor (Emeritus) Oti Boateng, Omanhene of the New Juaben Traditional Area.

The statement noted that the entire representation system upon which all modern democratic governments are based rests on credible election outcomes.

"The first chapter of the 1992 Constitution opens with an affirmation of its supremacy and emphatically states that the sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised".

The statement said the purported 50 per cent plus one vote was entirely different from and absolutely inconsistent with the true constitutional provision of more than 50 per cent of the total number of valid votes cast at the election and therefore cannot be used as a proxy for winning a presidential election in Ghana.

It drew the attention of Ghanaians to the fact that the attempt to equate more than 50 per cent of the total number of valid votes cast at the election as stipulated in the Constitution with the phrase 50 per cent plus one vote of an unknown origin constitutes a serious breach and an abrogation of the fundamental rules of mathematics and statistics which no person or group of persons or organizations, however styled or highly placed, have the freedom or authority to carry out.

The statement was of the view that deepening citizens' understanding of the electoral issues with a concomitant effect of reducing acts of violence emanating from poor knowledge of the electoral laws and procedures would further assist in raising the confidence coefficient of the electoral system and stimulate popular ownership of the election process.

"It is clear that the purported 50 per cent plus one vote is not part of the stipulated constitutional provision for electing a President of Ghana, neither can the phrase be found anywhere else in the Constitution" the statement added.

It said the phrase more than 50 per cent as stated in the constitution was completely different from and incompatible with the purported 50 per cent plus one vote which was being wrongly used in some circles as a proxy for the true constitutional provision.

It noted that the purported 50 per cent plus one vote as a criterion for determining a winner in a presidential election in Ghana was not supported by the Constitution.

"The analysis so far should be sufficient to discard any assumption or delusion that the purported 50 per cent plus one vote could be used as a proxy for more than 50 per cent of the valid votes cast".

The statement said it was well known in simple mathematics that a natural number such as 01 cannot be added to a percentage such as 50 per cent, unless the natural number is converted to a percentage or vice versa.

It said the two components which made up the 50 per cent plus 01 vote that is the 50 per cent and the natural number 01 are in two different mathematical states and they could not be added as such without first converting one of the components from its current state to the other state or conversely.

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