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Ghana Electoral Commission Assures Problem-free Second Round of Special Voting


A campaign billboard shows John Mahama, Ghana's president and National Democratic Congress presidential candidate, and the opposition New Patriotic Party presidential candidate, Nana Addo, on a street in Accra, Dec. 3, 2016.

Ghana's electoral commission on Sunday will hold a second special early voting period for citizens who encountered trouble Thursday when they tried to cast ballots in the first one.

The early voting period was scheduled to allow those who work on Election Day, December 7 — security forces, electoral officers and journalists — to cast ballots. But many people from these groups could not vote because they could not find their names in the voter registry.

In Accra, journalist Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie had checked to ensure his name was in the registry at the designated constituency the day before. But when he showed up at the polls, he was asked to travel to the western region where he first registered.

"My registration is far away in the western region," he said. "So clearly the time constraints couldn't allow me to even travel that far to go and vote as a special voter. I do not know what to do, but I am hoping that the EC [electoral commission] may rectify the problem."

First problems

Authorities said this was the first time the special-voter exercise had faced such problems. The EC said the omission of names arose because of problems in how some electorates applied for special voting. In other cases, the commission said people went to the wrong voting constituencies to cast their ballots.

In a statement, the commission announced those who could not vote the first time could try again Sunday.

Constitutional lawyer Nana Asante Bediatuo warned that this could lead to multiple ballots from individuals during the second round of special voting and even during the main elections if the electoral commission did not improve the transparency of its voter registration system.

"The biometric verification devices have counters. How are those counters going to be useful in determining how many people have already voted [and how many are left to vote]? ... There has to be a clear path to determining which list is going to be used so that there is no confusion. I think there is a danger. I'm never in favor of two-day voting."

The electoral commission said it was putting in place measures to keep people from voting multiple times. It said it would provide to all political parties of a list of those eligible early voters who had already cast ballots.

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