Recruit Qualified Electoral Officers IEA Tells EC

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has asked the Electoral Commission (EC) to recruit highly-trained people to serve as election officials.

It also called for those who act negligently to undermine the nation’s electoral process to be punished.

Dr Ransford Gyampo, a Research Fellow at IEA, in a statement said Presiding Officers, Polling Assistants and Returning Officers played a very crucial role in the country’s electoral process and therefore the credibility of the nation’s electoral process as well as the acceptance of election results as free and fair, peaceful and transparent, to a large extent, depend on these officials.

‘Where they perform their duties efficiently, the credibility of the poll is guaranteed; but where they are incompetent and act negligently, they compromise the polls and undermine the nation’s electoral process.

‘In the nation’s drive towards democratic maturity and quest for credible, transparent and acceptable elections, there is the need for a rethink of the calibre of people recruited as election officials,’ he said.

Dr Gyampo said as a fledgling democracy, it was imperative that the country explicitly provided in her electoral regulations some minimum educational qualifications for those who apply to be engaged as election officials.

He said currently, the EC conducts a written examination to select those who engage in voter registration and other election duties.

However Dr Gyampo said in the IEA’s view, it was high time the Electoral Commission reviewed its syllabus and raised the standard of the examination.

‘The regulations should provide a minimum period for the training of the election and registration officials before they are assigned duties,’ he added.

Dr Gyampo said voter education should be intensified such that voters will take advantage of the exhibition of names of proposed election officials and object to those that they know are bias or incompetent.

Again, he said provision should be made in order to punish election officials who perform their duties negligently.

Dr Gyampo noted;’Apart from polling agents, all polling officials can also be described as officials of the state who are paid for services rendered during the electoral process.

‘They must therefore be held accountable for what they do. Knowing the thorough details of the task of an election official, as well as the consequences likely to be suffered for negligence and dereliction of duties, would help in ensuring that only competent and responsible people apply for jobs as election officials.’

By Cephas Larbi
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