Ahead of election day, the president declared a national holiday to encourage citizens to participate in the process
Voting in Ghana to elect a president and members of parliament ended 5 p.m. Monday in an election adjudged by several voters and electoral officials as smooth and peaceful.
President Nana Akufo-Addo, the incumbent and candidate of the New Patriotic Party, is contesting against 11 other aspirants, including former president John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress. Both candidates had squared up four years earlier in an election in which Mr Akufo-Addo emerged victorious against the then president, Mr Mahama.
Voting opened across the country at 7 a.m. and the turn out of voters was impressive, several polling units' presiding officers had told PREMIUM TIMES.
"Since the exercise commenced we have not exercised any problem," said Owusu Kyei, the presiding officer at Glico Yard B, in Abossey Okai, Accra.
"If you ask me I'll say we are having a smooth and peaceful registration exercise."
"Out of the 406 registered voters at the polling unit, 200 have cast their votes so far, as of 2:30 p.m.
"The turn out is very encouraging," My Kyei added.
Ahead of election day, the president declared a national holiday to encourage citizens to participate in the process. In his nationwide address on the eve of the election, Mr Akufo-Addo emphasized that "improper behaviour by any citizen, no matter the colour of the party, will not be tolerated."
At the president's hometown in Kyebi, Eastern Region, residents turned out in large numbers to cast their ballot.
Koffi Akuffo, an educationist, who accompanied his teenage daughter to the polling station in Kyebi said the process was "seamless."
"From what I've seen so far, we are experiencing a very peaceful election, the atmosphere is very serene. We've not heard of any disturbances or chaos anywhere, we are praying to God that it goes on that way.
"Democracy is all about expression of ideas so I don't see why people should fight over it, that's the beauty of democracy. This year's election, the education went down well with the people.
"We must also applaud the EC because when I went to the polling station, from the time my temperature was checked and the time I finished voting, I timed myself, it was 2 mins 45 secs."
President Akufo-Addo, accompanied by his wife, arrived to vote at 10:15 a.m. at Polling Unit 01 in Rock of Ages Academy amidst loud cheers and singing. Within 20 minutes, both the president and the first lady had voted and their convoy moved to the Akufo-Addo family house about 200 metres away.
At the polling station at MA Experimental Junior High School, Kyebi, voters sat under a shade and awaited their turn to vote. Out of the 514 registered voters at the polling unit, 235 had voted as of 11:07 a.m. At the primary school arm of the school, 530 voters registered and 221 had voted as of 11:07 a.m. The electoral officer at the unit, Aseidu Thompson, said they had experienced no challenges at that time.
Similarly, "everything is under control" at the polling station at Magistrate Court, Kyebi, where 567 voters were registered. 281 had voted as of 11:43 a.m.
Back in Accra, residents also turned out in impressive numbers to perform their civic duties. Although several businesses and offices were opened for business on election day, there was free flow of traffic, particularly in areas knowned for bottlenecks.
"We started on time, that is 7 o'clock," Ghansah Emmanuel, the presiding officer, the presiding officer at Glico Yard A polling unit.
"We had a little challenge but it was resolved in a short time. A certain woman came but I think the name on the card was different from the name on the register. But she told us that those who were registering made a mistake, they added another name to her name.
"So we cross checked and we typed the bar code then it came on the machine so we verified her and she voted. That's the only challenge we had had today."
"There 407 registered voters, so far almost 260 has voted and we are still counting."
At the Christ the King School Polling Centre A in Accra, Emmanuel Gyesi, the presiding officer, said more than 200 people of the total 380 registered voters had voted as at 3 p.m.
"The people are coming in their numbers to vote. I think two thirds of the total voters will show up."
There are four polling stations inside Christ the King School, located opposite Ghana's Jubilee House. Francis Annang is the presiding officer at Cantonment 1B, inside the school.
"As at the time I got here around 5:30, they've already dispatched the materials," Mr Annang told PREMIUM TIMES.
"The police officer who is in charge here collected the thing on my behalf. When we got here, there were about 60 in a queue waiting for us."
There are 12 presidential candidates and 914 parliamentary hopefuls on the ballot and voting will be done in 38,622 polling stations across the 16 regions.
The other 10 presidential candidates include the Christian Andrews of the Ghana Union Movement; Ivor Greenstreet, Convention People's Party; Akua Donkor, Ghana Freedom Party; and Henry Lartey, Great Consolidated Popular Party.
The rest are Hassan Ayariga, All People's Congress; Percival Akpaloo, Liberal Party of Ghana; David Apasera, People's National Convention; Brigitte Dzogbenuku, Progressive People's Party; Nana Agyeman-Rawlings, National Democratic Party; and Alfred Walker, an independent candidate.
But the two front runners remain President Akufo-Addo and former president Mahama. The two candidates had also squared up four years ago when the latter was the incumbent president.
The Ghana Electoral Commission promised to announce the winner of the presidential election within 24 hours of the close of voting.