WHAT AFARI GYAN TOLD THE COUNTRY, AT THE EDITOR’S FORUM ON 5TH DECEMBER 2012, ABOUT THE RULES OF THE GAME BEFORE THE CONDUCT OF THE DECEMBER 2012 ELECTIONS
I was asked to come here to have last minute dialogue with the press, the media. I have no prepared speech, if it were a press conference; I would begin with a prepared speech, so I genuinely mean that that we were going to have a dialogue but maybe just a few, errrm, things to refresh your memories or to inform you.
The first statement I want to make is that all the materials that we need to conduct the elections are already in the field, they are already in the districts and constituencies of the country, so we are ready to conduct the elections on Friday.
All the material that we need, I don’t need to itemize them, that everything we need and from the exercise we did yesterday, that is the early voting or special voting as we, errrm, call it in Ghana, we can now say that we have a very robust machine that can do the job.
We can also allay the fears of people who were doing mathematics saying that it’ll take every voter about 5 minutes to go through the process, therefore if you take hours and multiply the number, dividing by 5 only so many people can be processed. Yesterday, very huge numbers were processed by the machine so we are confident that even our largest polling station which goes up to 1,100, and there are only about 2,000 of such polling stations out of the 26,000 polling stations we have, only about 2,000 will go up to 1,100 voters.
So the overwhelming majority of polling stations are under 1,000 voters, so we know that people can be, errrm, processed. Let me also share with you some of the firm decisions we have taken together with the political parties.
Now it has become errrm a sing song almost in the street.
NVNV, no verification no voting. And by verification we mean that everybody will have to be verified biometrically except those voters who fall into 2 categories. We know that some of our brothers and sisters who have no hands at all so we cannot, but they are Ghanaians and are entitled to vote. We also know from experience in the field that there were people who had fingers, but we could not capture their fingerprints.
Alright, the first category, no fingers at all, we classified them as, errm, people who suffer from permanent trauma. People who had fingers but couldn’t capture their fingerprints say you are suffering from temporary trauma.
These 2 categories of people are known to the verification machine will see F/O, F/O alongside the picture. F/O means face only. In other words, you are not going to ask when you see the picture.
F/O you are not going to ask them. F/O’s alongside somebody’s picture, you don’t ask for fingerprint. OK. They are in a very small minority, but the rest of us, all of us, will have to be verified not only by our looks but also by our fingerprints, OK. Alright.
Let me also say the people who lose their ID cards can still go to the polling stations to vote. You see, when we scan the person’s number, the person’s picture will appear on the machine, so we can tell, we can tell that it’s you. Of course you are subject to verification by the machine, so if you have lost your voter ID card, you can still go to vote, but please when you go use the same name as you used to register. If you go and mention some other name we cannot trace in the register and therefore you cannot, errrr, vote. Alright. We have also said that in principle.
See the verification machine will tell you how many people have been verified to vote at a particular polling station.
We have agreed in principle that where the votes found in the ballot box outnumber the persons verified to vote, the result of that polling station will be cancelled, and somebody asked, what happens if the result is cancelled? We will re-run the election if it will make a difference.
If the result of that polling station will make a difference; let me give you an example, supposing that we have 2 gentlemen, you know, as only 2 candidates in a constituency first past the post system, we have cancelled the result of one polling station which has 200 voters.
When we counted, errrr, the rest, not you, he got 2,000 and you got 800, alright. It means that if we give all the 200 ballot assuming that you’ll get a 100%, you still get what only a total of over a 100 on the first past post business, he still win the elections, we’ll not bother to go and re-run the elections. So where mathematically, mathematically re-running the elections will make a difference we’ll go back and re run the elections, So if we cancel the result of the polling station, it doesn’t mean the election errrm is ended.
I said in principle because all kinds of scenarios, you know, could be errm be errm errm. Let me also say that our election law has built into it automatic extension of the voting time. The law has built into it extension, automatic extension of the voting time, so people don’t need permission at the polling station to extend the voting time.
That is why we should not go and beat up people if they are a bit late in starting the poll. Remember, that I said all the materials are already available, errm, in the districts. In some countries, we could have given the materials to the presiding officers, maybe 2 days ahead of the elections. So they get up in the morning all they do is to go to the polling station and go about their business.
In Ghana, you know, if I gave you a set of ballot box and ballot papers and you took them to your room overnight, you guess what might happen to you. So our rule is that all the distribution to the 26,000 polling stations takes place in the morning of the poll. So in the morning of the poll we are touching 26,000 points. It is possible vehicular breakdown or something, some station may not be able to start on time, alright… but I’m saying that if they don’t, once again it not a mathematical gain, they say ooooo they got here at errr 7:30 so are you going to add 1 and half hours beyond 5:00pm. NO, it doesn’t work that mathematical way. At 5:00 everybody in the queue should be taken care of before polling stops. It’s not like some areas where at 6:00 came and shut the door when everybody was out there waiting to. Our law says that at 5:00pm when the poll is supposed to close if people are still in the queue all of them must be taken care of until it is finished, that is where you stop polling. So extension is automatically built into this.
So if somebody is a little late to start please don’t go and beat him up or hurt him or curse him, all those things errm we place a lot of emphasis on the importance of agent, agents. So as you go round see whether the agents are there and see whether they are doing their work properly.
First of all, the concern has been expressed that sometimes you will go to the presiding officer. He says, you agent go and sit under that tree. If you are knowledgeable agent you will tell the presiding officer, I will not go because the agent is supposed to be free to move about within the polling station and some time, you know we like mathematical measurements. And sometimes we say how far away should we be away from this? It’s not the question of measurement. If it’s something that you will not hear you must be close enough to hear. If it’s something that you want to see, you must be close enough to be able to see. So we are not going to say be 5 yards or 5 meters away from the table, no. The only thing that we require is you don’t go and breathe over the election officials or you don’t move about in such a way that you interrupt the flow of this thing.
But along with the agents, I want to make this very clear, we’ve told all the candidates that we’ve interacted with the agents. It is only at the polling station that you have the right to ask for a recount and and any will be journalist who will be reporting please listen to this carefully, it’s only at the polling station that you can ask for a recount of votes and I told the candidates that if your agent does not ask for a recount and he comes to report something to you and three days later you send a letter to us we will not look at it favorably.
Let me put it politely and the votes will be recounted once if there is controversy they will pack the votes into the ballot box and take the contents to the constituency center this time for the returning officer to do the counting. The candidate can ask for a recollation of the ballot at the constituency collation center, you know that is place they are putting together the results of the various polling stations, so collation is done. So you say well, but I’m not too satisfied with the collation, a recollation will be done. You see at this point the candidate must be able to say this is what I got and it’s different from what you say I got because, ermm, candidates will have the polling station results of all the polling stations in the, ermm, constituencies.
The ballots are counted and in every polling station they are properly signed and a copy of the results is given to the agents. And let me say that that is the base document for reconstructing the results that has been occasioned where controversy has arisen. We have gone back and taken polling station by polling station results from the agents compare them with ours and reconstructed the results so if some party, we’ve advised the parties don’t pull off your agents before the end of the day or don’t tell your agents not to sign because agents refusal to sign does not invalidate the results. It is better to advise your agents to stay there and get a copy of the polling station results so if you go to the collation center and some candidate comes and tells the returning officer I want a recount of all the ballots in the constituency, he has no right to do that. Ballots once counted and certified at the polling station will be recounted only on the orders of a court, otherwise once the process has been certified at the polling station, there is no counting of the ballots again.
You see that is why sometimes it appears as strange when some of the allegations are made they say as soon as they finish the elections someone came and took the ballot box and sped off on a motor cycle and went to some place and it stuffed, you go and stuff the ballot box for what? if I were in such an audience I will think that you are a fool to go and take a ballot box because you are stuffing the ballot box after the fact when everything has been done or sometimes may be you are a journalist you have a car you see some presiding officer you know who has finished his work and is waiting to be collected, it’s too late you say, ‘oh let me help you go to’ hey . You see it has already been done, there is nothing you can do to those ballots again, oh they were carried in this erh erh party sympathizers vehicle and so what? So what? Once the right thing has been done at the polling station you are not going to count the ballots again.
Anyway, and let me also say that I have little to do with the parliamentary elections. The electoral commission at the headquarters has a little to do with the parliamentary election results of course when there is a controversy will be referred to us and we will try to resolve the controversy otherwise the returning officer is the person in-charge of the parliamentary elections. The returning officer will collate the results from the constituency and declare the winner. We don’t declare winners of parliamentary elections in Accra, they are declared in individual constituencies.
Let me also say that the results of the presidential elections will be declared at each constituency center alright they will be signed, people will get copies. It’s after that they are sent to the so called strong room in errr Accra which is mainly a communications room and the most important items that we have there are ten fax machines, one dedicated to each region so that if you know this, err, you know, then we will know that a result is coming from Upper West, a result is coming from Volta that’s all.
Alright, and in the past when the results came, results that has already been certified by the constituency, by the headquarters, came of course there will be party representatives in the strong room. Let me say it is not a legal requirement that party representatives be present at the strong room. This is the measure of increasing the transparency and the credibility of the elections. When the results arrive in the operations room, their representatives will sign before the results are brought to me in my office and then when I sign, I send a copy to the G.J.A. If you look at the trend you will know that I’m the last person to see the results. As the returning officer for the presidential elections, I am the last person to see the results. So when people say that you know ahh! My God, I will be the craziest person in the world to temper with things everybody has seen.
First of all it has been seen at the polling station. It has been seen at the polling station level, it has been seen at the constituency level before being faxed to me then I say go and alter this thing? No. Its only people who don’t understand, that is why I keep saying that look most election officials cannot help you in any way to win an election and that is why we stress the importance of what happens at the polling stations because our permanent officials are not at the polling station. We have five people per polling station. 26000 x 5, what is the strength of the electoral commission 26000 x 5? These are the number of officials that we hire to operate at the polling station level. They are taken from the larger society because of that, we have built checks into what goes on at the stations and we have credible agents who will ensure that the proper thing is done. It becomes very difficult for anybody to cheat. That is why we don’t entertain, you know, the assertions by some candidates that my agents were bought my agents were bought sometimes they say it.. why did your agents sign? They signed because they are stupid. I didn’t appoint them for you, you appointed them yourself alright? So I give you the opportunity to appoint people to represent you and you go and appoint stupid people. Anyway, so, but that underscores the importance of agents they are very very important. And that kind of work is not done virtue of muscle power, alright? So don’t go and look for macho people to appoint as the eerrrr, its brain power, people who understand the process and can stand up and defend the process and insist that the right thing be done. If you get credible agents, the checks that are built into the system I’m quite sure we will have a very very peaceful and credible election in the next few days and I hope that all of you will play your respective parts in making that a reality. I think that I will stop here and have you ask questions.
They brought me a chair, maybe they want me to sit down eerrh?
PRESENTER: Thank you very much Dr. Afari Gyan. Uurrmm question time urrrmmm you have 30 minutes for questions because he has to go somewhere else and there is one question that am sure will come out. I can preempt that but we have agreed with the CODEO, that’s the Coalition Of Domestic Observers. They also suffered the same fate of not, you know, going for early voting. It’s already happen we want to see the way forward so for that question, let’s agree because it’s not going to make any change so uurrmm we take first three urrmm ladies first. You in front of the lady and then our friends from the U.S. you come to this mic, identify yourself and ask your question. Urrmm please do me a favor could you bring it here for the sake of the camera men. They want this thing brought here rather. Is that OK? Is that OK? Better? Yeah! So please ask your question.
DANIEL ARMAH: Thank you very much. My name is Daniel Armah from the Ghanaian Chronicle. My question is during the special voting, there were instances people had ID cards, they went to the polling station but could not find their names in the register if this happens on Friday, what is the remedy? Thank you
ABENA ADU OWUSU: Please my name is Abena Adu Owusu, I work with the CNCTV and my question is a little similar to the gentleman’s. Sir uurrmm, I would like to find out how the EC is dealing with the issue of people with, urrmm. security officials whose names were not in the register. How are they going to vote?
AFARI GYAN: Which People?
ABENA: the security officials whose names were not in the register
AFARI GYAN: Can I answer this one now?
PRESENTER: You want to take the two?
AFARI GYAN: Let me take the two
PRESENTER: It looks like these are two heavy questions so just hold on. Hold your fire
AFARI GYAN: The two questions are obviously interrelated. Let me start by saying that if you took our voters register, you’ve seen some before, you will not know who is a policeman, who is a soldier, who is a journalist or whatever we just write people’s names alright? So if you going to do an exercise like this and we say security personnel will be allowed to do what we do, we depend on their authorities, the various authorities to provide us with the list of persons. You see if there were indications in the register as to who is a policeman or this and so on, we can just give instruction; extract all policemen or extract all into a register so the register that we compiled for the exercise were based on information provided by the various security agencies, alright?
And let me give you the one that you captured. The, what did I do with my eyes? They are here. Yes, based on information that was provided to us we compiled a register BNI-657. I wouldn’t know how many BNI agents are there. Immigration -1,647; military- 4,470; National Security-28; Police- 18,167; Prisons- 2,223; others-2722; totaling 29,914. That was the register we prepared for the security. I presume, let me show you something, I don’t want to single out, you see? Look at the information that was presented to us by one agency. We’re asking for the, urrrmm mmm, the ID number and the polling station number. All we have here is the name, no ID number, no polling station number. How can we compile, you know data for them? And you can see on this page, the entire page only about 1,2,3,4 could be captured this is the kind of if you don’t give up complete information, it is impossible. Remember this is biometric, we have to extract the person’s biometric information into the machine that is going to be used for the biometric there are some cases where urrrmm the ID numbers were not correct.
Anyway, this morning, we urrmm held a meeting with the security authorities and we have said that security personnel who did not take part in the special voting would have to go to their polling stations on Election Day to vote. It’s as simple as that. Ghanaians have not been taken from their polling stations so on, because on the basis of information supplied to us, we couldn’t include them. Now they would have to go to the polling stations on Election Day to vote. This is not likely to happen during the election time because the information is already in there, alright? This is not likely to happen in the election time except in places where we could not find the voters register and went back to register. If we miss anybody who registered during the first occasion but did not register the second time then that person because there is no biometric information in the urrrmm in the machine, that person cannot also vote alright? So the unfortunate thing alright? It’s unfortunate that urrmm some people and then, we set up how many centers at least 275 one for one or each constituency so that the security personnel can vote in both.
The presidential and Parliamentary elections. You see, if you go out of your constituency, you cannot vote in the Parliamentary election. You cannot take your voter card from Accra and go to Ho and vote in the Ho Parliamentary election. So, either the law is made to say that oooo urmm security people or special voting people all of you vote only in the Presidential elections then you can go anywhere to vote because the whole country is one constituency otherwise you will have to go back to your constituency to be able to vote for the, in the Presidential and Parliamentary and elections. Alright! So please yes, some people were left out through no fault of ours but those people have an opportunity to vote on Friday. Yes, my question was not answered. Yes, you said it will not happen, in case it happens, what is the remedy? In case that what? In case that I have my ID card and I go to the polling station, and I don’t find my name the register? If you have your ID card and it is a genuine ID card you went to please, please let me, you went to the exhibition? Did you go to the exhibition? Yes. If you did, your name will be there. If you did, I guarantee you; your name will be there.
KOFI AMOABIN: My name is Kofi Amoabin. I am affiliated with De Paul University, Department of Communication in Chicago. My question relates to rejected ballots and votes counting. Since we have Biometric machines, my question to the EC is when, is there a possibility of introducing electronic votes counters where the voters will just drop the ballot into the machine and it will automatically count the votes as the polling goes along so that at the end of the day, the votes and the ballot are counted so that there is no need to do any counting? Then, also regarding rejected ballots, between 2004 and 2008 rejected ballots increased from about 100,000 to 200,000 yet in the 2008 election the difference between the top two vote getters, the top two candidates, the difference was about 50,000 so we see here that the rejected ballots are very significant in determining the outcome of the elections. My question to the EC is, did the EC do any analysis on the rejected ballots to see patterns of fraud, using for example finger print readers to see if maybe somebody or there was some kind of collusion or any kind of practice in there that tainted the results? Thank you so much.
JUSTICE: The name is Justice, from Xinhua News Agency of China. Yes. Mr. Chairman, your answer to the question about the events of yesterday I still have some difficulties because the issue is that the security officers, most of them are going to be posted out from their constituencies and you are asking that they go back to their polling stations on Friday to vote, how is this possible? And then secondly, the issue about minors that have been registered, in one breathe the commission conceded that yes, minors have been registered and even said some of your own officials you know, are culpable and you will be exposing in due course but in another breathe you are saying that these minors once they have been registered then we can only use the moral arguments to you know, dismay them from voting but how is this consistent with the fact that we have established that a wrong has been done but on the bases of that wrong, the minors cannot be compelled or cannot be prevented from voting? How can we reconcile these two positions? Thank you.
AFARI GYAN: Let me deal with two at a time. I can get overloaded. The electronic counting, I suppose you will separate electronic counting from electronic voting right? It is possible to do electronic counting without electronic voting right? We haven’t gotten there yet. We haven’t gotten there yet. You see, even here, where we show the ballot to everybody and count, one, two, and three and so on, people still talk about and they have questions. Electronic counting? They will say that you have pre-programmed the results into the machine okay. So let’s wait. Let’s wait. Let’s go gradually and slowly towards then but I know it’s possible to do that ok. We do some rejected ballot analysis. We tell the Presiding officer that at the end of the day you see, he will tell us how many ballots they rejected for say reason one, reason two, reason three, reason four, alright. And you are giving specific reasons for rejecting the ballot. You cannot use your discretion to reject the ballot. It must fall within one of those reasons. That is the kind of analysis that we do. As for any kind of forensic analysis, we don’t do. We don’t do any kind of forensic analysis. But we do some analysis to find out if there is a pattern and what possible response or remedial action could be. We do that.
And the number two questioner, you will like to find inconsistency in many places. You see, what is the solution? Your name was not included in the special voting or your name was given but your ID number was not given, your polling station was not given, as a result, it is not possible for me to include you. What other alternative is there if you want to vote? If you want to vote, you have to go back. You have to go back to your station, alright. I know yes, the question of deployment. But I am leaving that one to the police and the other authorities to resolve. Because I don’t deploy them so I am not going to take on the responsibility of saying how these people are going to be deployed.
The minors, we have never said that only moral situation is the answer. We have never said that. We have said that between now and the elections, it is not possible to go the legal route to get them out of the register and you cannot physically prevent them on election day from voting because they have gone. They are assumed to have gone through the same process as you and I have went through. Remember, we had the first opportunity to get rid of the minors during the registration exercise through the facility that we called what, the challenge. These kids passed right in front of us and we didn’t challenge them, we let them go, alright. We had the second opportunity during the display, public display of the register you could have gone to look through the register and say I object to this person been in there that will be determined by Magistrate or Judge whether to oppose the objection or doesn’t oppose the objections. Once again, we didn’t go and look into the register and object or those of us who went there, the pictures were so beautiful that we did not object. Now the Judge has signed onto register certifying these people have gone through the processes required by law to become qualified voters, so you cannot prevent them from voting on the election day. So if you see some small kid in front of you, please be patient. Let the kid finish balloting before you get your turn. So we are saying that now, now let us use you know, persuasions, appeal to tell them not to come to the polling stations. But we are not saying that they cannot be punished alright? The other day, I said that maybe if we have a punishment for all of them, we may have to build new Borstal institution because we can’t take them to prison. No. they are quite considerable. They are quite considerable. So that is what I have said. Now we can go to the next batch. Thank you very much.
BEATRICE ADU: My name is Beatrice Adu. I work with Joy fm. My question is, the supporters of the NDC and the NPP are saying that they are not going to leave the polling station even after voting, and this is the situation that a lot of people consider will bring some tensions in the polling stations. As the boss of the main body organizing the elections, what will you say about this? Thank you.
EKOW MOSES: My name is Ekow Moses and I represent Blue Bird News. Urmm Doc, looking at the electoral laws that gives the EC 21 days to have a run-off in the event that the first round does not give us a clear winner, when are we likely, all things been equal, to have a declaration of the elections? My second issue has to do with people who may be so politically misconstrued that they attempted to register twice or more than once and by virtues of that their names must be expunged from the register. These same people who may have not been arrested for the crime will get to the polling stations and now raise hell that their names have been taken out of the register and they will try and make political statements and try to accuse you especially of been in bed with one session of the divide. How do we handle the people whose names will not be in the register by virtue of the fact that they attempted or they registered more than once?
QUESTION: THE FIRST ONE WAS THE TWO MAIN PARTIES SAYING THEY WILL NOT LEAVE THE POLLING STATION.
AFARI GYAN: Yes it was about the parties telling their supporters not to leave the polling station. You know what the position of the electoral commission is? We recommend that when you finish voting, you go home and rest, and that you can come back at 5:00pm when the votes are being counted. A small clarification of your statement, the parties that are in insisting that as they say police the ballot box, that is what they’re saying. They are not saying that they will stay within the polling station, alright? They are not saying that they will stay within the polling station, they will be outside the perimeters of the polling station. If they are outside the perimeters of the polling station, it will be difficult in law to do anything about them. Once again, appeals! Appeals!! Appeals!!! But if they are outside the perimeters of the prescribed perimeters is it erhhhh what? Now they say they will go 100 meters which is double the radius of the polling station. If they stay out that range, there is very little you can do. But I agree with you, when rival supporters congregate like that they can create tension and violence. So we must continue to appeal to them that when they finish they should go home and that is all that they can do. Ok erhhmmm well yes the law says that if no winner emerges on the first ballot we must do the run-off within 21 days. You want to know how soon we will announce the first to start the second. If the need arises. We normally give ourselves 72 hours to deal completely with what has to be done in order to be able to announce the results with finality but in 48 hours you should know whether anybody is winning, whether there is going to be a second round or not, within 48 hours you should be able to know, ok? Within 48 hours you should be able to know, ok? Alright? The next two.
QUESTION: the second one was not answered. Those whose names have been expunged because of..
ANSWER: ohohohoh the names, expunged names, you see? Yea we have a list. My brother if you will look a list of persons excluded from the voters register, the list is here. I will tell you why you have been excluded from the register, alright? So if you have been excluded from the register of a polling station, your picture will be here, nice picture. It will be here and when you come we will tell you eeiih my brother look we have excluded your name because you committed such an offence may be you were challenged and the challenge was upheld. May be you did eerrhh, and we have list of people who did multiple registration, we do. So there will be a number of lists at the polling station including persons who have been excluded from the register and also people who have been excluded because they did not go through registration, ok? The pictures will be there.
Allow me to invite eerrhh our foreign guest.
BENSON: This is a quick one Sir can you tell us how many. My name is Benson and I work for the AFP news agency
AUGUSTUS AQUAYE: My name is Augustus Aquaye from GBC Radio, about the Kassena Nankana registration that is pending today, would there be a chance for them to display the register before Friday? And then would you say that, for want of a better expression, the mishaps that went on with the early voting was due to time factor regards to communication between the EC and the Security agencies on the omitted details and the names they separated?
After this we will take the last..
AFARI GYAN: The number of registered voters’ stands at 14.07 million, 14.07 and the number of polling station now is 26,000 plus, alright? Let me deal with the time factor and early voting. You know, the, when you adopt some technology, it imposes some parameters within which you can function. Now we will all say that people should be biometrically what, verified before they can vote. We have to adjust our timing to correspond with what is feasible. You may recall that previously, if you wanted to transfer your vote, you do that within 21 days, now if you want to transfer your vote; you have to give us 42 days, if you want to do proxy voting you have to give us 42 days, if by special voting you will also require 42 days, alright?
So time factor becomes important. But let me tell you, this problem has always occurred. This problem ought not have given us complete information. It has always occurred. I told you that you cannot take your voters ID card from Accra and go and vote in the Volta Region. Last time that is what happened, where the people have been transferred. They, they, that is why we changed the name from special voting to early voting because they thought cause of voting no, special voting, you are a special person. They are just like all of us; it means you are voting early. They say no this is special voting, so the police no matter where they came from, what ID card they had they could eerrhhmm. So it is not a new problem, not giving us complete information. It’s not a new problem.
Let me tell you one organization, I don’t want eerrhm, they brought us, we didn’t have one single problem. We didn’t have one single problem, for your information. So all the people could have voted on this eerrhm. The others as I told you. How can you if you have not given us the persons ID number, give us the person’s name, no ID number, no polling station number, where am I supposed to go and extract the information from? Alright, so I will not attribute mainly to maybe we are not careful enough in providing the information that we need.
Now the Kassena Nankana issue, over 2,000 people have been registered as of yesterday and the registration is on-going and it will end at 5:00 pm today. But let me say that unfortunately, even though they have begun the process of registration, they cannot vote in this election. They cannot vote in this election. Please remember too that we tried to register them at the same time as we registered you. And they disrupted the registration process and chase our officers away, only later to reconsider and say that now they want to register, but by that time it’s already too late. Our law says that yes, we can go continuous registration but if your name does not go into the register eerrhm before sixty days to an election, then you cannot vote in that election. So sixty days to an election you come, we can put your name in the register but you cannot vote in that election. And that facility has unfortunately caught these people. So we have begun the process of registration, remember that it is a process, it is not a single event. How do we know that all the people who vote, who are registering there are even minors, or may be not Ghanaians. We have to display, go through the processes that we undergo to make our register before we get a judge to sign on to the register and it becomes a part of the main register. So hopefully in subsequent elections they can vote, but not in this one. It’s unfortunate.
We take the last. Please face the camera.
MARGARET ASAAH BOAKYE: My name is Margaret Asaah Boakye , I report for the Times newspaper. My question is errhm, errhm, Mr. Afari Gyan, how sure are we that when it’s 5 o’clock on Friday, your officials will not prevent electorate from voting? I’m asking this because during the registration exercise, where I vote, around 4:00pm, your officials stopped the registration exercise because they said they were going to pack their documents and other things and that will take a long time so they were going to stop the voting at 4:00 o’clock, how sure are we that this time when it’s 5:00 they will not prevent people from voting, thank you.
JOSHUA TINGO: Thank you very much, my name is Joshua Tingo, I write for the Finder newspaper. My question has to do with the current National Security Architecture which places the heads of our District Chief Executives or Municipal Chief Executives at the helm of affairs of security. Now at a recent colloquium organized at the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Center, the National Security Coordinator, Gbevlo Lartey, had asked that the electoral commission makes provision for the heads at the various districts to be put at the helm of security because of conflict of interest issues especially when some District Chief Executives are involved in the elections themselves. I want to know if you have taken any decision on that. And considering the changes that have taken place over the years from 1992, will you still be using fax machines in the strong room as you have always done, thank you very much.
JONES ANKRAH: Jones Ankrah from Pink FM, Dr. can you please listen to me, I just received my ID card from your end there and am not enthused with the colour green, if Gaddafi were to be here I will say that he has influence in the issue of the card, now I don’t know why you didn’t make it in a brighter colour because of security reasons even red-yellow-green so that it will be a Ghanaian colour. Green is giving me something which I don’t want to say it here, so why didn’t you go with a colour which is more brighter for security people to see it , so that at least I will be safe within that perimeter, thank you.
AFARI GYAN: Green is part of our national colors. Yes Sir after asking the question will you listen to me. This is the first time that anybody has complained against the color of our ID cards, we will take it into consideration and do wider consultation. Ok, alright. Now you said how can you be sure that operatives will not stop voting at 5:00pm?
Now you said how you can be sure that our operatives will not stop voting at 5pm? I can tell you, I can be assured as you are prepared to stand for your right, Alright? If I am in the queue at 5 o’ clock and the person says I’m stopping I will say no! You can’t stop because the law does not allow you to stop. But if he says I am stopping and all of you are cowards and you go away, I’m not there. My dear I am not there, alright? There are twenty six thousand polling stations I cannot be at all of them, but you are there and you know what the law says. So, at 5pm if you are there and he says go away I’m stopping voting you say no! We are not going away we are not stopping voting. Insist on your right. If you insist on your right, they will do the right thing, alright? So when there is, of course there is nobody there if you came at 5pm, you cannot go and tell them reopen the voting and let me go through the voting. But if you are there after 5pm, you can tell the person I’m not going away until you let me vote.
Urrmm You see we must separate the head of election security from head of the District security, alright? The election security deals with only election related issues, the District security deals with much larger the right of things. So, now the district chief executive is no longer the head of the election security committee. But I suppose that he remains to be the head of the District security committee. There’s very close collaboration between us and the police and the army on the election security committee. There the District chief executive is not there, okay?
Are we going to use fax machines? Fax machines have not become obsolete, yes! We will use fax machines. You see the fax machines are important because we will have to see certain signatures. If you are the returning officer in Enyimo and you send something to us, the reason why we will know that it is you sending it will be your signature, alright? It is to be preferred to communicating on say on the phone. If you say 123 I had write 321, how are you going to know? So put there sign it and fax it to us in addition whatever you are doing. So we will still use fax machines in the strong room. They are still there. This time, when the results come we will make copies immediately and give them to representatives so that, if they are delaying and having their quarrels I could go ahead and declare the results.
MAN: We are quickly going to help but there is a lady here, who has Afari in her name and you know the EC chairman also has Afari so there is no way they are going to turn it down.
ADWOA YEBOA AFARI (CHAIRPERSON EDITOR’S FORUM GHANA) : Thank you very much for this solidarity. My name is Adwoa Yeboa Afari, Chairperson Editor’s forum Ghana. Chairman, you forgot to tell us, did you vote yesterday or are you going to vote tomorrow or Friday? I know you don’t want to tell us who you voted for but at least tell us whether you voted yesterday.
AFARI GYAN: You could have said it that if I voted, I didn’t vote. And on Election Day I will not even be anywhere near here. I don’t vote because all of them are my brothers. All the competitors are my brothers; I don’t want to help one against the other so I don’t vote OK? But I am a registered voter but I don’t vote. Just on principle OK? See the referee, the referee does not vote for one of the teams’ eerrh, you are in the middle whistling who is fouling and who is doing what and then you join one team? No. So as a referee who stands in the middle, I don’t vote as a matter of principle but in my private life, I will vote OK?
MR. YIRENKYI: Mr. Yirenkyi an upcoming politician just a few comments before I ask my question. Yesterday during the early voting, we realized that the number that the biometric verification machine gave us was a little bit different from the tally and we were trying to solve that problem. What came up was that, if the voter goes to, if the voter goes to the registration official the one checking the names from the alphabetical list, he will tell you the name and the page that your name appears in the register. Then he will tell you that page four left then you go the one with the biometric verification exercise. People assume that, immediately they tell you that your name is in the register then they forget about the one doing the verification then they quickly want to run to one with the presidential ballot paper. So if you finish and you press the F2, the final number will be different from the tally because we were marking male and female. So please try and educate the voters, they should be patient to go through the register, go to the verification press it, get the indelible ink and come back to the one with presidential ballot paper.
Now Doctor Page seventeen of the electoral commission of Ghana a guide to candidates and their agents, how the winner of an election is determine. If a candidate is declared elected unopposed the winner of a parliamentary election is decided on a simple plurality or first past the polls basis. This means that, the candidate who obtained the highest number of the valid votes cast wins the election. The winner of a presidential election must obtain at least 50% +1 of the total valid votes cast. Dr. Oti Boateng wrote an article challenging this phrase and this morning, the news bulleting also repeated this same thing that there is No mathematical sentence supporting this statement. He even quoted a United Nation’s declaration that you cannot say that, a president will win by 50%+1 there is no mathematical sorry, you know is a governmental statistician so there was a strong debate on this issue how this thing came about. So as we come to this, can you please clarify it?
Now my last question is after the Kumasi declaration of peace when all the presidential candidates put their pen to the peace accord if they go back and in a dialogue they decide that one of them should be their leader because Doctor Afari Gyan say that they are all their brothers now they have realize that they are all brothers so one of them should become their leader so now they are no more contesting this general election and they have redrawn their candidature if they come to you, what will be their response? Now they don’t want to contest the elections, they have decided that one of them should be their leader, thank you.
AFARI GYAN: Anyway look, the, remember that when professor Nana Oti Boateng wrote his article saying that it doesn’t make statistical sense to say 50%+1 it was another eminent professor of statistics who said 50%+1 makes perfect sense in election. This is election language alright? And i explain what it means there if you didn’t go on it means that the winning candidate must get more votes than all the other contestants put together. That is what it means alright? So if you don’t like the inelegancy of 50%+1 at least you understand that, the winning candidate must get more votes than the votes of all the other candidates put together, right? Ok.
But, you see, you see how, if he gets 50% plus one, it means the rest are sharing less than 50%, ok, that’s what it means. ummm the, hmmm, the other one(laughing between speech), if, look, the elections are govern by definite laws (laughing between speech). If people, ummm, the erhhhh, if people resign, there are rules governing resignation and so on and so forth, correct? So if they do resign, we would apply the rules ok? I don’t think that anybody is going to resign at this time (laughing) alright.
MODERATOR: I will have the last lap and i suppose this will be the mother of all the questions, erhh when we, erh when Dr. Afari Gyan met the editors forum and it became apparent that, we will not be part of the early voting, ummmm there was some kind of a concession , ummm and i want to find out whether it still applies that, once journalists are accredited and they get to their polling stations they would be allowed to vote quickly and leave, they will not join the queue ,I want to know from my good friend whether it still stands ‘feeli feeli’?
AFARI GYAN: Well, you will go to the head of the queue, if that is not joining the queue i don’t know what (laughing). You will go to the head of the queue so that you can vote early but if you go and there is ummmmm a nursing mother in front, don’t go and cut in front of her. if there is a very old person like me in front (sharing laughs), don’t come and cut in front of, so there are certain categories people that we give preferential treatment to, in fact now the police will fall into the same category, alright? Whether they are in uniform if they are not and uniform but they have their ID, they will go to the head of the queue and go and vote and go by the business, yes so it still stands.
MODERATOR: Hmmm so, ummm time well spent. You want to ask a question oh are you in Ghana? You from? ok let’s allow, they are our guest.
Oshorma Moamagu: My name is Oshorma Moamagu, I work for TVC News Nigeria. When we came in on Monday, we had to go through the Ministry. I thought that, in an election like this it is the EC that shows reprehend of accreditation but I realize that we were asked to go to the Ministry. There i paid a hundred cedi for myself, a hundred cedi for my camera man and .
AFARI GYAN: Which ministry? .
Oshorma Moamagu: Ministry of information, and i got to the media outfit here, i mean the Ghana Journalist Association in here i paid another six Cedis for my staff, paid another six cedi for my camera man. My question is, we believe those journalists are one all over. it might be from another country we are one we defend ourselves, if because we are not based in here i have to pay a hundred and six cedi, my camera man have to pay a hundred and six cedi just because i want to cover Ghana election? I think it does not sound well because ahhh this is the first time am hearing that when i travel to a country to cover elections am made to pay, and i felt i should raise this on the floor. Thank you.
AFARI GYAN: Do you have receipt from information?
ANS: no, no receipt, i had to demand because I must account at my office for the money i spent so it was typed and given to me because i told them that how do i get back to my country talk to my office and account for the money i spent.
Thank you very much, erhhhhh that’s a valid, i think we will find out ummmmm, the ministry of information isn’t here but i know for a fact that any foreign journalist who comes to Ghana, erhhh for your security you know, for your protection you have to get to the ministry of information but as to whether money is taking or not i don’t have any idea so we will find out and ummmmmmm you know. For for for for the one you have to pay to the GJA, obviously, it’s only six Ghana. One for processing and then the materials that..am sure you’ve seen your card, they are all expensive and i don’t think Dr. Afari Gyan wants to add that to his erhhh and it’s for both local and international. It’s the same price ,all the journalist in Ghana have pay six Cedis for getting their cards processed for them so i made it clear that i couldn’t speak for the ministry but i can speak for erh GJA and the EC at least that I can do.
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