Ghana's electoral commission says security officers, journalists and electoral commission officials who would be working on the day national elections are to be held in December are scheduled to participate in special voting a week before the entire country goes to the polls.
The printing of the ballot papers to be used for the presidential vote will be completed early next week in preparation for the December 7 general election, according to Eric Dzakpasu, spokesman for the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana.
“We started printing the presidential ballot last Sunday to finish the printing last Sunday and we hope to finish printing that ballot by Sunday [or] Monday latest. It took us about two weeks to print the parliamentary [ballot papers] for the 275 different constituencies, which meant that we had to develop plates for 275 constituencies before we started the printing. But that of the presidential we needed only one template to print the same ballot for the entire country. And we are almost done and by Sunday, we will finish with the printing of the presidential ballot,” said Dzakpasu.
The printing of documents for the parliamentary poll were completed last week. The parliamentary ballots have been dispatched to the country’s 10 regions to await the completion and subsequent dispatch of the presidential ballot papers before being distributed to the various constituencies ahead of the polls.
“As soon as we finish printing the ballot papers at the printing house, together with the police and some party agents we will convey them straight to the regional capital, where we crosscheck them and then keep them with the regional police at the regional police headquarters. Hopefully, next week, we will start the distribution from the regional headquarters to the various constituency centers where we still keep them at the district police head office and then wait the dates of the distribution to the polling stations,” Dzakpasu said.
Political parties have often accused the electoral commission of bias in favor of the ruling party an accusation officials of the electoral commission have sharply rejected.
Dzakpasu said the electoral commission continues to engage the political parties through the Inter-Party Advisory Committee [IPAC] to address their concerns before the elections.
He said the officials of the commission meet with other stakeholders as part of the electoral body’s policy to ensure transparency in the processes and practices in the run up to the polls.
“Before we print any election material or sensitive election material, what we do is that we inform the police, we inform the Bureau of National Intelligence and then we notify all the political parties to send their agents. Security wise, all the printing houses are provided with closed circuit television cameras and then we commence the printing,” said Dzakpasu.
“So round the clock we run shifts, day and night including weekends to print, so that together we all take stock of the quantity, the serial numbers then we baggage them then distribute them to the regional police headquarters. So security around the [voting] materials are tight, and everything is on course, [and] we’ve not had any challenges yet.”
The electoral commission, he said is printing the declaration sheets that would be used to record the results of the elections from polling stations across the country. Dzakpasu said the electoral body has up to the end of the month to complete the printing of the declaration sheets to meet its timetable. He however was hopeful the printing of the sheets would be completed before November 30.
Security forces, officials of the electoral commission and journalists are scheduled to participate in a special voting before the December 7 general election. This, Dzakpasu said, forms part of the electoral commission’s work to ensure prospective voters who would be on duty on the election day are not disenfranchised. He said the electoral body would be ready for the special voting.
“They are required to take part in the special voting at least seven days before the main elections. We have received the applications for all these people, we have printed the registers. We are just about to finish the printing of the ballot papers and then the declaration of the results sheet. So, if you go by the rules and regulations, we are having the special voting on the 1st of December 2016,” said Dzakpasu.