238,000 Overseas Voters Missing In EC Register
It has emerged that the total number of registered voters abroad captured in the Biometric Voters Register (BVR) of the Electoral Commission (EC) for the 2012 elections was 2,883 and not the over 241,000 as earlier claimed.
This included diplomatic staff serving in Ghanaian missions abroad, students on Ghana government scholarships, Ghanaians serving with international bodies as well as Ghana service personnel returning from international peacekeeping duties.
The total number of people registered abroad was contained in the full list presented by the EC to the Supreme Court Registry on Tuesday as part of the processes in a petition filed by three New Patriotic Party (NPP) leaders including the party’s December 2012 presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, challenging the commission’s declaration of John Dramani Mahama as President.
The other petitioners are Nana Addo’s running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and the party chairman, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey.
In the document, the EC put the number of service personnel returning from international peacekeeping duties at 2178 while the total number of diplomatic staff serving abroad as well as students on government scholarships and Ghanaians serving with international bodies were 705.
This brought the total number to 2,883, leaving the EC to fish for the missing 238,117.
For service personnel returning from international peacekeeping duties, the EC said it registered 120 in the Volta Region, 92 in Brong Ahafo, 210 in Northern Region, 216 in Western Region, 106 in Ashanti Region and 1,434 in the Greater Accra.
The breakdown of diplomatic staff serving abroad, students on Ghana government scholarships, Ghanaians serving with international bodies registered were as follows: London, 49; The Hague, 27; Moscow, 34; Berlin, 27; Geneva, 26; Rome, 16; Spain, three (all in Europe); Cuba, 15; Washington DC, 23; New York, 55; Brazil, 13 (The Americas).
The rest were China, 20; Seoul, 22; India, 17; Dubai, 19; Malaysia, 13 (Asia), Addis Ababa, 36; Pretoria, 43 (East & South Africa); Rabat, 45; Algiers, 28; Cairo, 20 (North Africa); Monrovia, 27, Dakar, 21; Abidjan, 13; Bamako, 11; Abuja, 30 and Lome, 7 (West Africa).
The EC’s submission was in response to an order for interrogatories issued by the Supreme Court in respect of the petitioners’ request to get the commission to furnish them with the documents on the people registered overseas.
The petitioners said the application for interrogatories was filed because of the answer given by the EC after the petition had been filed.
The EC, in answer to the petition, had submitted that over 200,000 votes from categories of voters registered abroad were included in the final results of the election.
A simple calculation on the list of voters registered abroad showed that the total number submitted by the EC was 2,883, whereas the commission in response to the petition quoted that over 241,000 people were registered abroad.
The 241,000 Argument
The issue of 241,000 came about as a result of the total number of registered voters quoted by EC Chairman Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan when he declared the results of the presidential election on December 9, 2012.
On that day, he said that 14,158,890 was the total number of registered voters, with 11,246,982 valid votes cast at a 79.43 turnout, even though the petitioners averred that the commission had announced 13, 917,366 as the total number of registered voters prior to the election.
The petitioners, in their petition filed on December 28, raised the discrepancy in the total number of registered voters announced by the EC, and the commission, in its answer filed on January 7, 2013, said that the discrepancy in figures rather affected voter turnout and not the ballots obtained by each candidate.
The affidavit sworn to by Kwadwo Sarfo-Kantanka, a deputy Commissioner of EC, averred that the total number of registered voters, copies of which were forwarded to the parties, was 14,031,680 and added that figure14,158,890 used to declare the results was a ‘genuine’ error but that had no bearing on the results declared.
The commission said it rather affected the voter turnout by increasing it to 80.15 percent from79.43 percent and not the actual results released.
Not satisfied with the explanation, the petitioners asked the court to order the commission to submit the list of diplomatic staff serving abroad, students on Ghana government scholarships, Ghanaians serving with international bodies as well as Ghana service personnel returning from international peacekeeping duties, with their bio-data as captured in the register.
The figures submitted was far lower than the figures the commission included in the declaration of the results of the general election.
The details submitted to the court included names, sex, ages of the voters as well as location registered and the polling station numbers; but there were no voters ID numbers.
Another request from the petitioners for the EC to explain why it failed to notify the petitioners’ party about the registration abroad, so it could send representatives to monitor the process, was met with an aggressive answer.
‘The 2 nd respondent is not obliged by law to allow political party representatives to be present during registration exercise but done so, in practice, as a courtesy and to enhance transparency. It was open to the political parties to have their representatives present at the registration locations if they had so wished,’ the EC charged.
EC Responds To Interrogatories
Amadu Sulley, EC deputy Chairman in charge of Finance and Administration who deposed to the affidavit responding to the interrogatories, averred that before the abroad registration, it had given the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) the list of foreign service personnel, their dependents, students on Ghana government scholarships abroad and Ghanaians working with international organizations as well as their locations and proposed dates of registration.
‘Honourable Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh (NPP) and Mr George Lawson (NDC) collected the material on behalf of their political parties in the middle of September, 2012,’ the EC declared, adding that, ‘no voting took place outside Ghana.’
He also said that ‘Further directives received from the Court are yet to be incorporated into the Register, as will the recent registrations effected in the Kassena-Nankana District following the order of the High Court.’
He averred that if that is done, ‘this will alter the total number of registered voters. The Voters Register is dynamic, not static, particularly in this era of continuous registration as required by Regulation 9 of (C.I. 72).’
Explaining how the voter population increased from 13, 917,366 to 14,158,890 on the day of the declaration, the EC said, ‘The said entries also included insertions, at 400 registration centres and the Commission’s District Offices, of the names of persons who claimed to have voter ID cards but had been inadvertently omitted, as well as data recovered from damaged registration machines and back-up pen drives.’
The EC insisted that once the petitioners did not mention that the 14,158,890 registered voters represented the raw entries in the registration database, that ‘omission’ has resulted in the creation of ‘distortions’.
In President Mahama’s answer to the petition, he endorsed the EC’s explanation that the 13, 917,366 figure given to the political parties was provisional.
‘The 1 st respondent states that to the best of his knowledge and belief, the figure of 13, 917,366 announced by the 2 nd respondent was clearly provisional,’ Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, who was the President’s campaign coordinator, averred on his behalf.
‘At the time of the announcement, 2 nd respondent had not registered prisoners and other voters including those in the diplomatic missions abroad and on peacekeeping missions, and had also not done mop up exercise that it undertook subsequently,’ he said.
‘The suggestion by petitioners that there were some veiled reasons for the difference between 13, 917,366 and the final number of registered voters is without basis and smacks of utmost bad faith,’ he added.
By William Yaw Owusu