A former Member of Parliament (MP) for the then Jaman Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region in the Third Republic, Mr Martin Adane, has called for the redesigning of the ballot papers used for national elections in order to reduce the high number of rejected ballots recorded in general elections.
He suggested that, the ballot papers should be designed horizontally instead of the vertical arrangement which has the candidates’ photographs, political party symbols and space for thumbprinting arranged in columns from top to bottom.
He stated that it would be much easier to identify candidates if their photographs, party symbols and space for fingerprinting were arranged horizontally with the space for thumbprinting to show support for each candidate directly below the candidate’s photograph and symbol.
Mr Adane, who was a Member of Parliament for the Popular Front Party (PFP) from 1979 to 1981, made the suggestion in a paper he presented to the Daily Graphic in Sunyani titled, “Rejected Ballots in Ghana’s Elections. …… Redesign The Ballot Papers”.
He also called for a change in the finger accepted for thumbprinting on the ballot paper.
According to him, instead of the thumb, the index finger/forefinger (the finger next to the thumb) should be used for indicating votes on the ballot paper.
He stated that it was a fact that no matter the background of a person, thumbprinting a document in whatever form was difficult and might require some assistance, saying pointing at something with the thumb is, to say the least, very clumsy.
“The natural way for pointing at something is to use the index finger, kyerekyerekwan” in Twi, he noted.
Mr Adane explained that the index finger of both hands were easier to use in pointing at something than the thumb and it was easy to use the forefingers for making marks without any assistance, adding that fingerprints of the index fingers differ from person to person, in the same way that the thumbprints of individuals differ.
He noted that if his proposal for the redesigning of the ballot papers and change in the fingers used for making marks on the ballot paper for national elections were adopted, it would drastically reduce the number of rejected ballots by about 80 per cent.
Mr Adane, therefore, called for a dispassionate examination of his proposals and if found suitable, the necessary amendments to the existing legislation should be forwarded to Parliament by the Electoral Commission (EC) for the appropriate action.
Giving statistics to support his suggestions, he said out of the votes of 11, 246,982 valid votes, the rejected ballots were 251,720. The rejected ballots exceeded votes secured by the six other presidential candidates put together (171,605) in the December 2012 general elections.
Mr Adane also said the rejected ballots were significant enough to have influenced who could have been declared the winner, or could have bettered the performance of the other “smaller” political parties. The same problem also prevailed in the parliamentary elections.
The former MP added that the EC, National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) and political parties blamed one another for the high number of rejected ballots recorded in each general election.
He noted that these institutions flatly rejected their responsibility to educate voters and, therefore, the problem remained unresolved. As a result, in some cases, the wrong contestants for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections were declared winners.