IEA Recommends Prison Sentences For Negligent EC Officers

Dr Ransford Gyampo
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is recommending punitive action, including prison sentences against negligent electoral officers whose elementary mistakes go a long way to undermine election process.

That is the clarion call by the IEA to the Electoral Commission as part of the Electoral Reform Project being undertaken by the Institute in collaboration with other stakeholders.

“The current regulations provide for election officials to take an oath administered by the district election officer before embarking on their duties but the IEA recommend that the oath be administered by the district magistrate to bring its effect forcefully to the officials. Any act of omission or commission that flouts this oath should attract severe punishment including prison sentences,” a report authored by a Senior Fellow at the IEA and Political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr Ransford Gyampo said.

The call comes in the wake of the 2012 election petition hearing which showed a good number of clerical errors and sometimes negligent mistakes by electoral officers which nearly marred the elections.

The IEA is convinced the current processes used in selecting electoral officers, and the training they are made to go through are not enough quality assurance for a mistake-free election process.

It has therefore urged the EC to raise the standard of examination and appoint qualified and more competent electoral officers to man the 2016 polls and subsequent ones.

“As a fledgling democracy, it is imperative that we explicitly provide in our electoral regulations some minimum educational qualifications for those who apply to be engaged as election officials.

“Currently, the Electoral Commission conducts written examination to select those to engage for voter registration and other election duties.

“In the IEA’s view, it is high time the Electoral Commission reviewed its syllabus and raised the standard of the examination. The regulations should also provide a minimum period for the training of the election and registration officials before they are assigned duties.’

The report is a product of recommendations made during a workshop between the IEA, representatives of the political parties and other key stakeholders.

The IEA says the “credibility of the nation’s electoral process as well as acceptance of election results as free and fair, peaceful and transparent, to a large extent, depend on these polling 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 poll and undermine the nation’s electoral process.’

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