Posted: Monday 1st September 2014 at 21:06 pm

Occupy Ghana Pressure group asks EC to allow Ghanaian residents abroad to vote


Pressure group Occupy Ghana is asking the Electoral Commission to take immediate steps to implement the Representation of People’s Amendment Act, 2006 in order to allow foreign Ghanaian residents to vote.

It is also requesting the Commission to make the Voters Register available at least one year before the 2016 General elections.

The proposal is part of a 19 point communique issued by the group days after it held a public forum in conjunction with IMANI Ghana on the need for election reforms in Ghana.

The theme for the forum is 2012 Election Petition-Status of Recommendation for electoral reforms.

The full comminique is as follows.
Further to the deliberations of participants at the public forum organized on the above theme under the auspices of OccupyGhana and IMANI Ghana, we the Organisers and the Participants, have reached consensus that there is the need to protect our democracy by strengthening the integrity of our electoral process and enhancing the credibility of our elections and election results.

The Electoral Commission, speaking through its designated representative at the forum, was unable to furnish participants with the needed information about the commission’s preparedness to enable us to ascertain the status of the proposed electoral reforms.

Accordingly, we the participants have concluded that there is the dire need for the Electoral Commission to take immediate and firm measures to implement the recommendations of the Supreme Court as well as those already proposed by the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), IEA-GPPP.

In addition to these recommendations from the Supreme Court and IPAC, the Electoral Commission, Government, and all Ghanaians, must consider the following specific actions:

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION:
1. The Electoral Commission must prepare the Voters Register and make it available for public scrutiny at least one year before the election date.

2. Electoral Commission must publish the identities and qualifications of proposed presiding officers so that the public may have an opportunity to challenge their suitability. In addition, The Electoral Commission must liaise with the Ministry of Education to employ teachers as presiding officers on Election Day.

3. The Electoral Commission must change the Electoral Calendar to make way for the conduct of the General Elections in October so as to allow sufficient time for any petitions arising from the elections to be speedily resolved before a President-elect is sworn in.

4. The Electoral Commission must come out with the Electoral Time Table two years ahead of time and must strictly comply with it.

5. The Electoral Commission must be open and transparent about its administrative procedures and policymaking and decision-making process.

6. The Electoral Commission must publish the criteria, methodology and process by which it undertakes constituency delimitation and hold public hearings and consultations as part of the process of constituency delimitation.

7. The Electoral Commission must aim, in its constituency delimitation exercise, to reduce the disparities in the population between constituencies, in order to ensure fair and equitable legislative representation of communities in different constituencies.

8. The Election Commission must discontinue the practice of basing constituency delimitation on the President’s creation of new districts and must challenge as unconstitutional any statute or regulation requiring the Commission to do so.

9. The Electoral Commission must take immediate steps to implement the Representation of People’s Amendment Act, 2006, to allow foreign Ghanaian residents to vote.

10. The Electoral Commission, acting in conjunction with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), must investigate the causes of the large number of spoiled ballots recorded in our elections and implement appropriate measures, including public education programs, aimed at addressing this problem, as this effectively disenfranchises thousands of voters.

11. The Electoral Commission must increase the seating capacity of the Strong Room to allow more stakeholders to observe collation of election results.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO GOVERNMENT:
12. Government, through Parliament and the Attorney General, must enact legislation to sanction the actions and/or inaction of presiding officers. The Electoral Commission should be able to impose administrative sanctions against its officials who fail to carry out their lawful duties

13. Government must provide financial resources to the Electoral Commission on time in order for the Commission to execute its mandate efficiently.

14. Government should adequately resource the National Identification Authority so that it can continue the process of building a multi-purpose national identification system whose cards can be used to exercise one’s right to vote.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE JUDICIARY AND PARLIAMENT
15. The Rules of Court Committee must make rules and regulations to require that an election petition is heard and decided within a specified time period after a petition is filed. With respect to a presidential petition, the Rules must ensure that a disputed election is resolved in advance of the date for the swearing in of a President-elect. With respect to a parliamentary petition, the Rules must ensure that a petition, including any appeal from the original decision of the High Court, is resolved no longer than six months after the filing of the petition.

16. The Judiciary must bifurcate the calendar for the adjudication of election-related challenges, so that Voters Register-related challenges will be resolved and determined before Election Day.

17. Parliament must use the recommendations and agreements reached by IPAC as a basis for enacting changes to existing laws governing the conduct of elections.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CITIZENS:
18. Citizens must observe and adhere to electoral rules and regulations. They must remain vigilant to ensure compliance of electoral rules by others on Election Day.

19. There is the need to build consensus on the feasibility or otherwise of proportional representation by commencing a public debate on the subject.

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