EC proposes electoral reforms to improve future elections in Ghana
The Electoral Commission (EC) has proposed four reforms to the country’s electoral system to address challenges identified in the 2020 elections and improve subsequent elections.
The proposals include close of polls at 3:00pm instead of 5:00pm; all year-round rather than periodic registration of eligible voters; continuous voter register exhibition, and restriction of data entry of votes to constituency collation centres.
The EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, announced these proposals at the opening of a two day Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) workshop in Accra, yesterday.
The workshop aimed at assessing the processes, strategies and approaches adopted in the 2020 Elections, highlight the areas that need to be strengthened, and build consensus on a reform agenda for the coming years.
Explaining the proposal for the earlier closure of polls, Mrs Mensa said, from various sections of the public and the experience from the 2020 Elections, it was a workable proposal which could help save time for other processes, given that by 1:00 pm, most polling stations were empty.
She said having an all-round system which enabled citizens who turn 18 years, or persons who had not registered before to visit any EC district office to register, would help scrap nationwide registration exercises and reduce the cost of elections.
On the year-round exhibition system, Mrs Mensa said, it would enable citizens to check their registration details on their smart phones and other mobile devices instead of waiting for an exhibition exercise to check their details.
She shed light on the proposal to build further efficiency into collation process by focusing on data entry only at the Constituency Collation Centre, saying the entry point for data capturing into the system would be at the centre.
Then, she said, the data (Constituency Collation Results) would be made available to all stakeholders at the Regional and National levels and flowing from the data captured at the centre, the system would generate regional and national reports without further data entry at any of those levels.
“By adopting this system, the problem of minor inaccuracies with the collation process and unnecessary delays will be reduced significantly,” she said.
On challenges that were encountered in the 2020 Election, Mrs Mensa said, rejected ballots was a major recurring problem and that , in spite of the advances made in the design of the ballot, to reduce the incidence, 314, 901 rejected ballots were recorded.
“Unfortunately, our laws do not allow us to take possession of the ballots until after a year but we intend to undertake an audit to determine the root cause and find workable solutions to eliminate this problem,” she said.
Mrs Mensa named manual verification as a challenge likewise the perpetuation of the illegality of encouraging minors and foreigners to register.
Despite the challenges, she said the Commission chalked some successes including the compilation of a new voter register and organisation of the election within about six months amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
She called for concerted efforts and constructive criticism to make the electoral system better.