General News of Saturday, 19 December 2015
Moves to have the presidential and parliamentary elections held on November 7 are advanced with the Electoral Commission ( EC ) liaising with the Attorney-General’s Department to have the relevant constitutional provision amended to effect the change.
The Chairman of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, who stated this on the floor of Parliament last Thursday, also said since the constitutional provision which stipulated that the elections be held on December 7 was not an entrenched one, the necessary legislative documents would soon be presented before the House to effect the change.
She said the change in date would make provision for the holding of run-offs in November as well.
She told the House that the EC was also proposing a law which would empower it to prosecute election offenders with the consent and authorisation of the Attorney-General’s Department.
Mrs Osei said the EC asked for GHC1.2 billion for the 2016 polls and was also proposing an increase in the number of polling stations to 30, 000.
The amount required for the polls, she said, did not include the compilation of a new voters register or the cleaning of the current one.
She said the commission intended to train 152,000 election officials for the polls, adding that the request that highly qualified people be used for the conduct of the elections could be met by the commission. Each official, she said, would be paid more than GHC400.
She added, however, that because it was not likely that a large number of highly qualified professionals such as university professors would be willing to assist in that endeavour, the EC could only use them at collation centres and not at polling stations.
She said the commission was proposing November 3, 2016 for special voting, when those directly involved in election day duties would cast their votes ahead of the day for general election, adding that the election day would be November 7, 2016.
Programme of activities
Mrs Osei said the commission was likely to hold a voter exhibition exercise in June and allow for transfer of votes in September.
She noted that the training of election officers would be held for six days instead of two to ensure that they were thoroughly schooled in election matters.
She assured Ghanaians of credible, free, fair and transparent elections and called on Ghanaians not to entertain any fears because the commission was putting in place checks and balances for a flawless electoral process.
The EC Chairman said plans were being made to reduce long queues at polling stations, restricting every polling station to at most 850 voters.
She also said the EC had begun instituting measures to surmount geographical challenges such as the crossing of rivers and undulating terrains by creating new polling stations in vicinities with such barriers to make polling stations more accessible.
In that instance, she said, people in areas such as ‘Overseas’ would not have to cross rivers and other water bodies and stay in long queues before they exercised their right to vote.
“That would also reduce problems of visibility in areas which hitherto had seen elections getting into evenings,” she added.
Declaration of polls
The EC Chairman said barring any unforeseen circumstance, results of the polls would be declared two days after the polls.
According to Mrs Osei, due to the vexed issues of verification in the last elections, the commission had decided to carry out both electronic and manual verification to ensure that the legal provision that all voters be verified was complied with.