Senior Lecturer of the University of Ghana’s Law School, Dr Abdul Baasit Aziz Bamba has highlighted the dos and don’ts electorates have to abide by on Election Day.
With less than 30 days for the country to go to the polls, Dr Aziz Bamba on JoyNews’ The Law Sunday, stressed that the 1992 constitution have made certain provisions for electorates to comply with, in order to ensure the smooth running of the process.
“If you look at these laws, you realise that it seeks to protect the [electoral] process, protect EC officials and protect electorates and candidates,” he explained.
Listing them, he noted;
- One person, One Vote
In Ghana it is one person, one vote so you as a voter, you are only entitled to cast only one vote. Nothing more, nothing less, the only exception that we make is when you have been appointed as a proxy. Here, you can vote for yourself, and vote for your principal. But apart from this, under no circumstance are you supposed to cast more than one ballot, if you do that it is a crime and for which you could be prosecuted and severely punished.
- Join the queue before 5pm else you can’t vote.
The law states that, if you want to vote on Election Day then you have to go to the polling station between the hours of 7am and 5pm. We are not America, so we cannot mail in any vote. What we have here which may be similar to that of America is the absentee vote. But except that, we don’t mail in vote here [Ghana] so you have to go and join a queue between the stipulated time.
And by law, once you are in the queue before 5pm, you are entitled to vote. But if you go a minute or a second after 5pm, the Presiding Officer is entitled to prevent you from voting.
- Engage Presiding Officer to replace your ballot when you spoil it
In certain circumstances, voters spoil their ballots. So there is provision for spoiling of ballots. If you for one reason or the other, you [an electorate] spoil your ballot and it wasn’t done deliberately or fraudulently, you can speak to the Presiding Officer and ones he/she is satisfied that there is no ill intent to the destruction of the ballot, he/she must give you a new one for you to cast your vote.
But if for any reason, he is not convinced, that the ballot was genuinely spoilt. So if he thinks that, you deliberately or fraudulently destroyed the ballot, then he/she can refuse you a new ballot and you will not be entitled to it.
Point to Note: In this case, whether your ballot is replaced or not, the law has given some discretion to the Presiding Officer of the polling station to decide.
- No hard liquor is to be sold with 500 metres of a polling station
The law states that within 500 metres of a polling station, no hard liquor is to be sold. So the citizenry is not supposed to sell any alcoholic drink within 500 metres of the polling station. And the ration is that, we don’t want people to get drunk and start causing trouble at the polling station.
The expectation is that before the EC designates a venue as a polling station, they take it into account. Because if a drinking bar within that radio, it will be a bit unfair to situate the polling station there. But be it as it may, the moment a polling station has been cited at a particular place and there is a pre-existent drinking bar that falls within that radius, it affects it and the rule must be complied
A similar provision is that within 500 metres of the polling station, no one is required to be seen engaging in any attempt to convince somebody to come and vote for one person or the other.
The idea is to create a certain perimeter where you don’t have any partisan activity going on.
The upcoming elections will be the 8th time Ghana will elect her leaders in the Fourth Republic.