Errant election officers to face jail term

Jail term and punitive fines await sloppy election officers of the Electoral Commission (EC) in this year’s general election, as a new law prescribes sanctions against officials plotting to commit offences in the upcoming polls.

The new law to regulate the general election, Public Elections Regulations, 2016, Constitutional Instrument (CI 94), which is currently before parliament, clearly defines punishments for errant election officials including presiding officers.

Regulation 44 (2) of CI 94 stipulates that “An election officer who is required to perform a function under these Regulations but fails to perform that function, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than five hundred penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than two years or both, and shall for a period of five years from the date of the expiration of the term of imprisonment be disqualified from being engaged as an election officer.”

A penalty unit is currently about Ghc12.00, meaning a convicted election officer fined a maximum of 500 penalty units will cough up Ghc6,000.00.

According to CI 94, the provisions in relation to election offences specified in the Representation of the People Act, 1992 (PNDCL 284) also apply to these Regulations.

It would be recalled that legal pundits disagreed as to whether there were prescribed sanctions against the unconstitutional act of the Presiding Officers not signing pink sheets during the hearing of the landmark presidential election petition at the Supreme Court in 2013.

Whilst some contended there was a plethora of provisions to sanction such election officers including election offences specified in the Representation of the People Act, 1992 (PNDCL 284), others dissented, saying there were no defined sanctions for such offences.

The new law has now proven beyond all reasonable doubt that election officers would be punished if they misconduct themselves.

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By: Awudu Mahama/election.citifmonline.com/Ghana

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