Dr. Afari Gyan Soon To Leave Electoral Commission Says ‘Ghana ‘ Will Not Opt For E-Voting’

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has organized a forum to discuss the Supreme Court verdict in respect of the petition filed by Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo the presidential candidate of the NPP and others against the result of the 2012 presidential election announced by the Electoral Commission. The forum is part of the dialogue series launched by the NCCE to engage, educate and empower people on democracy.

The panelists at the forum were Dr Afari Djan Chairman of the Electoral Commission and Mr. Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe co chairman of Coalition Of Domestic Election Observers and eminent jurist with Mr. Samson Lardi Ayanini of Talking Point fame as moderator. They threw light and answered questions on electioneering processes such as roles of polling officials and the use of biometric machines in elections leading up to the announcement of results of elections. Dr Afari Djan said Ghana is not ripe for e- voting. He said ‘I am leaving soon to give way for younger hands but I don’t think we can go for e voting anytime soon’.

He said this in reaction to a craving by Mr. Mac Manu of NPP for Ghana to opt for e-voting now that the whole world is going digital. However he said we are not ripe for e voting. He said that even those developed nations who opted for e voting are facing problem with it saying it is not a perfect system not a ‘fool proof’. He advised Ghanaians especially political parties to be vigilant at polling stations and not to rely solely on biometric machines to work for them. Dr Afari Djan said the failure of presiding officers to append their signature on result sheets cannot be reason enough to nullify the result of election at polling stations.

Mr. Justice VCRAC Crabbe on his part who was once an Electoral Commissioner explained that the fact that our electoral law says the presiding officer shall sign the result sheet known as pink sheet does not mean presiding judges at the supreme court must not accept the results saying that judges often use their legal discretions to disregard the word ‘shall’. Mr. Justice Crabbe, who was the first Chairman of the EC, said it was good that the dispute over the 2012 election results was settled at the Supreme Court, adding that it was a means of strengthening ‘our Constitution and democracy’.

‘We also have to be grateful to the judges for the work they did in interpreting the Constitution to resolve the issues. The Constitution is our historical instrument, our political instrument and our legal instrument that contains the aspirations of the people,’ he said.

Justice Crabbe said all the issues that arose from the court’s verdict and the recommendations made by the judges bordered on administrative procedures in respect of the actions and inaction of humans and not as a result of the law. He said that was why the judges gave their interpretation and verdict based on the context of each issue raised by the petitioners.

‘Judges are part of society and they take society into consideration when deciding on a case as important as the election petition,’ he remarked.

Justice Crabbe cited the issue of signatures, saying that the matter of presiding officers not signing the pink sheets was an administrative issue or what he termed a ‘human element’ that needed not affect or interfere with the constitutional right of the electorate to vote.

He said there was the need for Ghanaians to distinguish between a person holding an office and the office itself. . Mr. Afriyie Badu of Kab Consult who pointed to possible unreliability of biometric machines said on a bad day it could cut off many people from the voters list. He therefore called for a meeting of political parties and other stake holders to reconsider the ‘no biometric no vote’ policy

For his part, Dr Afari-Gyan, said the EC was working to implement the recommendations of the judgment on the election petition.

He said the EC would also liaise with the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) to find solutions to some of the issues raised in the recommendations.

Dr Afari Djan said they would register new voters and hinted that the polling stations which stand at 26,000 would now be increased to 36,000 to enable the electoral commission maintain an upper limit of voters in each polling station to 800. Participants who included political parties and some stake holders agreed that an Inter Party Advisory Council meeting would be held soon to take action on some of the issues raised in the judgment given by the Supreme Court on the election 2012.

Some participants called for the speedy processing of national identity card to serve as a data base for use by the electoral commission in preparing our voters register. The Chairperson of the NCCE, Mrs Charlotte Osei, said from the discussions at the dialogue, it had become necessary that ‘we all play our roles in making sure that we have a credible political system’.

Mrs. Osei expressed her gratitude to the panelists and participants from academia, political parties, security services and civil societies for their eye opening presentations and contributions. She expressed the hope that the dialogue began by the NCCE would go a long way to promote discussions meant so solve problems.

Participants at the forum thanked the NCCE for the eye opening dialogue series and promised to spread of the program and its outcome the meetings to the people.

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