The Electoral Commission (EC) has intimated that the New Patriotic Party’s book “The Stolen Verdict,” which was the party’s assessment of the 1992 Elections was based on a lack of understanding of the electoral process.
Mrs Silvia Annor, Principal Public Relations Officer of the EC, stated in Accra that although there were some allegations of malfeasance in the conduct of the polls, a critical look at the allegations indicated a lack of understanding and some level of ignorance of the electoral process at the time.
She said although the EC took the opportunity to explain most of the issues to the aggrieved parties, the opposition political parties unfortunately went ahead and boycotted the parliamentary elections on allegations of electoral malfeasance.
Speaking on the topic, “Ghana’s Experience on Inter-party Dialogue,” Ms Annor noted that as a result of the problems that emanated from the field during the 1992 polls, the NPP submitted some proposals aimed at reforming the electoral process.
Topical among the suggestions were the replacement of opaque ballot boxes with transparent ones, the presence of party agents at polling stations and the tracking of electoral materials and ballot boxes.
The reforms introduced by the EC included an increase in the number of registration officials from one to four – a registration official, shader, laminator and a cameraman in a photo taking area.
There was also an introduction of district registration review committees (DRRC) and the preparation of better data which had impacted positively on Ghana’s elections since 1992.
Others were an improvement in the mode of communication of electoral results, choosing a candidate in the open instead of in classrooms; the presence of party or candidates’ agents at all polling stations and the use of photo ID cards in voting.
The rest were reforms in the voters register, balloting for positions on the ballot paper, the training of political parties on the electoral process, request for a recount of votes at polling stations, presence of agents at printing houses, the introduction of code of conduct for political parties, distribution of vehicles to political parties, presence of party agents at all designated collation centers, and the introduction of optical mark readers (OMR).
Also included was the use of numbered seals for ballot boxes during voting and the counting of ballots in the open.
Ms Annor noted that the reforms over the years had increased political parties’ confidence in the electoral system, as blames and accusations about the conduct of the polls had greatly minimised.
She noted that IPAC had been instrumental in the reforms in the electoral process, culminating in amendments to Constitutional Instruments (CI) 12 and 15.
“IPAC has helped the EC in making vital incremental changes – the amendment of (PNDCL 281) of 1992, in 2000; the Representation of the People Law (PNDCL 284) of 1992, amended in 2000; the Public Elections Regulations (C.J.15) of 1996; the Political Parties Act of 2000 (Act 574); and the Political Parties Code of Conduct of 2000, amended in 2004 and 2008.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), who moderated the session, lauded the contribution of IPAC in the handling of conflicting electoral issues.