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2024 Elections: 15 Essential Election Day Tips from the African Electoral Institute.

The African Electoral Institute (AEI) has come up with some fifteen recommendations aimed at ensuring Ghana’s upcoming general elections reflect the true will of the people and pass without any election-related disturbances.

The civil society organisation, established to deliver sustainable electoral solutions to emerging and developed democracies across the continent, highlighted the measures in a statement issued to media houses on the back of the just-ended limited voter registration exercise held in Ghana this month.

It says the Electoral Commission (EC) should first make sure its machines are fully functional before dispatching them to the polling stations. 

The institute recommends the EC provides meals for its officials during the elections from its own resources. This, the institute says, would help to avoid a situation where EC officials may be compelled or tempted to accept meals offered by agents of any political party and in so doing give people cause to conclude that the EC is compromised.

It suggests that proper arrangements are put in place to ensure voting starts without delay on the general elections day.

The AEI also says early arrival of all electoral materials at voting centres would help to avoid any anxiety or suspicions from the public.

It recommends that EC trains all officials who will be deployed for the electoral exercise, particularly on the code of conduct or ethics of the commission to guide them during the polls.

The institute proposes that the state security services provide enough personnel to safeguard the electoral process and exhibit a high sense of professionalism to avoid any suspicion of bias by an individual or a political party.

The other recommendations

Still on security, the AEI recommends that anybody found fomenting trouble at an election centre be arrested and immediately taken away from the scene to avoid disruption of the process.

“The African Electoral Institute further suggests that the security agencies should consider all voting centres as hotspots and do the needful. The AEI also recommends that the Electoral Commission should involve the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) in any process that concerns them for greater transparency and fairness.

“The African Electoral Institute wishes to urge or encourage all the political parties to take keen interest in all activities of the Electoral Commission and not leave it to the two major political parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), by participating fully. The police should demarcate some areas of the voting centre as a no-go area for nonvoters except people with accreditation and ensure it is strictly observed as such,” added the statement.

The institute further urges everybody who is representing a political party at the election to arrive at the assigned voting centre even before the EC officials and the electoral materials arrive.

It also recommends that the state provide the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) with adequate resources to enable it to educate the public on their civic rights and responsibilities as mandated.

The AEI also urges the police and the EC to “enforce all the electoral laws to the letter” and prosecute anyone who violates the electoral laws to deter “others who may want to indulge in any electoral malpractice”.

Challenges with exercise

The AEI’s recommendations stemmed from some challenges that affected the recent limited voter registration exercise and some developments it observed.

Those challenges and developments are captured in the statement the institute issued on Wednesday, 29 May 2024.

The exercise started late, particularly on the first day and some other days after the exercise began, it says, adding: “It raised a lot of concerns”.

Machines provided for the exercise did not function as expected as a result of some technical challenges. Network instability and unavailability rendered the registration machines useless, forcing the EC to resort to an off-line registration that was difficult to monitor.

The exercise was disrupted at some centres by irregular power supply from the national grid.

“It must, however, be mentioned that some centres had stand-by generators, which they relied on in times of power outage,” the statement said.

“Interference in the registration exercise by some political bigwigs to get people registered was also observed by the African Electoral Institute. This issue was one of the major causes of the chaos we witnessed in some centres during the registration.

“Challenges by the Electoral Commission to bring out or publish the correct or accurately collated figures of registrants became a topic of discussion at a point that could have been avoided. Alleged registration of minors in collusion with some political stakeholders and even some Electoral Commission officers was observed by the African Electoral Institute,” it reported.

Observations made at centres

The institute also observed that political parties bussed potential registrants to registration centres by political parties, creating a lot of challenges to the EC officials and security personnel.

“The high number of potential registrants who turned up to register sometimes overwhelmed the Electoral Commission’s officers. Whilst some registration centres had more security personnel, other centres did not, thus creating problems for them as witnessed in some areas. Some officials abused the guarantor system by guaranteeing more than the number of people stipulated by law.

“It was also observed at some registration centres that some officials of the Electoral Commission colluded with some party bigwigs to register people of questionable ages and residential status in the area. The African Electoral Institute further observed that some registrants had difficulty locating and accessing the registration centres because the centres were not properly or sufficiently advertised in terms of location,” the statement said.

The institute also observed that rains disrupted registration processes at some centres, particularly those sheltered under canopies or tents.

According to the AEI, the two major political parties— the NDC and the NPP— had agents who monitored the exercise on their behalf at all the centres but “same cannot be said of the other political parties”.

“Election is a process, and the process has started with the limited voter registration exercise and the rest of the EC’s programmes till 7th December, 2024. And so it was very important for political parties in good standing with the EC to have participated in the limited voter registration exercise.

“AEI wishes to let the other political parties know that their existence is not only to appear on ballot papers but also to participate in any process that seeks to deepen the democratic processes of the nation and should not leave such responsibility on the shoulders of the two political parties i.e. NPP and NDC,” the statement concluded.

Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org/Ghana

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