General News of Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Source: Daily Guide
The much-talked-about landmark election petition scheduled for today will most likely witness further delays following fresh applications filed by the Electoral Commission (EC), the 2nd respondent in the case.
The EC claimed that after being served with further and better particulars, it conducted an examination and analysis which showed that out of the 2,009 pink sheets that the petitioners claimed were unsigned, 1,009 were in fact signed by the Presiding Officer at the polling station or, at the instance of the Returning Officer, at the Collation Centre.
It further said 905 were unsigned, representing 3.5 per cent of the total number of pink sheets nationwide, and 1,989 pink sheets representing 99 per cent of the number claimed to be unsigned, were signed by the polling or counting agents of the candidates.
“Thus the 2nd respondent maintains that the request by the petitioners that votes cast at the said polling stations are invalid and should be deducted is without merit and should be refused,” the EC said in its latest amended answers.
“It should be noted that when several pages of papers impregnated without a carbon are used in order to have several copies of each page, it could happen that if the person signing or writing thereon does not press hard enough on the paper, the signature or writing could appear faint or illegible on some of the pages.”
The Commission said that the particulars set out in Ground 2 of the 2nd amended petition are a mere repetition of those set out in Ground 1 of the 2nd amended petition and that the particulars provided by the petitioners did not cover the 11,916 polling stations mentioned in the 2nd amended petition.
The EC wants the court to compel the petitioners to give further and better particulars of the 28 polling stations where the petitioners are alleging that voting took place but which is not part of the 26,002 assigned polling stations.
The EC further denied the allegation that the procedure established by it required each polling station to have a unique serial number and urged the court to reject the petitioner’s contention that votes recorded in any two polling stations on the Pink Sheets with the same serial number should be invalidated.
According to the EC, after analysing pink sheets of 11,916 stations as claimed by petitioners, it realised that no voter was allowed to vote without biometric verification at any polling station, saying: “The pink sheets used for the 2012 Election were designed and printed before the decision was taken, at the instance of the NPP, that at each polling station every person should be biometrically verified before being allowed to vote.
“In the view of the late decision regarding verification, all Presiding Officers, during the training exercise were instructed to leave Question C3 blank as verification would be carried out for each voter at the polling station.
“Given that 26,002 polling agents had to be recruited by the 2nd respondent, some of who were carrying out such duties for the first time and that the biometric register was being used in Ghana for the first time, it did happen, in a number of cases, that Question 3 was mistakenly filled. However, this did not affect the number of votes validly cast and counted in public.”