The Electoral Commission (EC) has described as misleading, allegations levelled against it by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the Commission is overprinting ballot papers.
According to the EC, “this is untrue and we entreat the Public to disregard this falsehood.”
The NDC on Sunday had alleged that the Commission was secretly increasing the number of ballots being printed above the prescribed five percent, to aid the ruling party rig the December polls.
They claimed the Assembly Press, one of the contractors printing the ballot papers, was secretly printing more ballot papers on the blind side of party agents monitoring the process.
However, the EC says the claims by the main opposition party are malicious and only seek to cause tension.
In a press statement, the EC explained that the Commission wasn’t acting in contrary to standard practice as being peddled by the NDC; as a matter of fact, the EC stated that they were printing in excess of five percent as has been the practice to cater for instances such as spoilt ballots.
“This has been the practice since 1992 and the present Commission has not changed this policy. In line with this policy, all Printing Houses have been directed to print the 2020 ballot papers in excess of 5% for all thirty-eight thousand, six hundred and thirty (38,630) Polling Stations across the country,” the Commission said.
They stated that “since 1992, ballot papers for both Presidential and Parliamentary elections have been printed in booklets of 10, 25, 50 and 100 for all Polling Stations” as such for a constituency of 90 voters a ballot booklet for 90 cannot be printed for that exact number i.e. 90 voters.
“In the scenario above, a booklet cannot be printed for ninety voters. A booklet of hundred (100) ballots will be provided. After adding a contingency of five percent (5%) to the ninety (90) voters, the number of ballots would increase to some ninety-five (95) ballots. However, since that Polling Station can only be provided with a booklet that contains hundred (100) ballots, there will be an excess of five (5) ballot papers,” the EC explained.
According to the EC, this is the situation that pertains in several polling stations and thus cannot be avoided, as it is impracticable to print separate booklets for each Polling Station based on the number of registered voters at that particular Polling Station.
“This has always been the practice and the NDC is well aware of this,” the Commission stated.
Furnishing Political parties with serial numbers of ballot papers
The EC further debunked accusations that the Commission had “blatantly” refused to furnish political parties with serial numbers of the ballot papers as claimed by the main opposition party to be standard practice.
According to the EC, “The Commission has never provided the Political Parties with serial numbers of ballot papers. The Commission cannot generate the serial numbers of all seventeen million (17m) plus ballot papers.”
They explained that serial numbers for the ballot papers have always been generated by the Printing Houses and provided to the Commission and Political Parties after each batch of printing is completed.
“After the printing for each Polling Station’s ballots are completed, the ballots are bagged based on the serial numbers. The serial numbers are then provided to the Commission and Political Parties to enable a tracking and monitoring of the distribution of the ballots.
“The packaged/bagged ballots are sealed by both the Electoral Commission and Political Parties. Indeed, each Political Party fixes their party seals on the packaged ballot papers. The Political Parties take a record of all seal numbers of each packaged ballot. The packing of the ballots is undertaken in the presence of all the Agents of the Political Parties.
“On the Election Day, the Political Parties certify all serial numbers on each packaged ballot before the ballots are opened. The serial numbers are also recorded on the Statement of Poll before Voting commences,” the EC explained.
The use of Assembly Press for 2020 ballot printing
The EC, regarding the NDC’s agitations concerning the use of Assembly Press for the 2020 ballot printing said the NDC should be rest assured that the printing process would be effectively monitored by participants of the various political parties and security agencies to avoid any manipulations that may compromise the process.
They said: “It is well-known that the Assembly Press is a State institution which at any point in time is headed by Appointees of an incumbent Government. It is also a well-known fact that the Assembly Press headed by Appointees of the NDC printed the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2012, and 2016 ballot papers.
“In spite of who heads the Assembly Press, the effective monitoring and participation by the Political Parties and Security Agencies in the Commission’s printing processes makes it impossible for any Printing House be it State owned or Private to manipulate and compromise the printing process.”
In conclusion, the EC stated that “the transparency and openness of the process makes it impossible for any Printing House to manipulate and compromise the process as all printing is done in the full glare of the Agents of the Political Parties,” thus Ghanaians should be rest assured.
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