The Beverage Consumers and Bar Owners Association of Ghana has organised a campaign aimed at preventing spoilt ballot papers in the upcoming general elections.

The Association through its campaign dubbed ‘Don’t Drink and Vote; A Campaign Against Rejected Ballots’ called on the general public to avoid drinking before heading to the polling station to vote.

According to the group, the issue of rejected ballots poses a key challenge to the electoral process and Ghana’s quest for democratic consolidation.

In a statement signed by the President of the association, Moses Onyah a.k.a. Dry Bone, the group expressed worry over the outrageous number of rejected ballots after every election.

“We have come to the understanding that the number of rejected ballots recorded after each election is not only overwhelming but mind-blowing.

“Sometimes, these rejected ballot papers have amounted to huge percentages of the votes in excess of the total number of votes garnered by some political parties.”

It noted that the rejected ballots could have been added to the votes of political parties that lost elections to make them winners.

“The rejected ballots have caused lots of problems in elections and denied some political parties from winning elections.”

The number of rejected ballots recorded in the first round of the 2008 presidential race for instance, was unprecedentedly higher than ever; both in terms of percentages and in terms of figures.”

The association also observed that “if rejected ballots were a political party, they could boast of a steady increase in popularity ahead of the smaller parties since Ghana’s return to multiparty democracy in 1992.”

“Again, had the rejected ballots been valid, one of the two leading contestants (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP or late Prof John Evans Atta Mills of the NDC) might have won the first round of the elections.”

The association noted that, Ghana could have saved the “additional resources needed to organise a second, not to mention another three weeks of political rivalry and tension between the NPP and NDC.”

“According to the Electoral Commission of Ghana, as many as 205, 438 ballots were rejected in the 2008 elections which constituted 2.4% of total 8,671,272 votes cast.

Hypothetically, the “rejected ballot party” placed third in the 2008 presidential race ahead of Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) who placed third with 113,494 (1.34 %) behind Prof. John Evans Atta Mills of the NDC who placed second with 4,056,634 (47.92%),” the statement cited.

“Indeed, the percentage of the rejected ballots far outstripped the combined performance of Dr Edward Mahama of the People National Convention (PNC), Emmanuel Ansah Antwi of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Thomas Ward Brew of the Democratic People’s Party, Kwesi Amoafo Yeboah, an Independent Candidate and Kwabena Adjei of the Reformed Patriotic Democratic (RPD),” it added.

“As aptly argued by Adcock (2005), at the very minimum, consolidating democracy requires the existence of free, fair, and recurring elections allowing the citizenry of a country to choose representative leaders.

The Beverage Consumers and Bar Owners Association of Ghana are of the view that “if the public, do away with drinking on December elections, we will record a less number of rejected ballot and this will help the various candidates.”

“Per this campaign, we are also advocating that the public ensures this year’s election is devoid of conflict and violence. The votes can determine the future of a political party. We are appealing to Ghanaians to vote wisely,” the statement concluded.