The Second Respondent (EC) in the ongoing Presidential Election Petition opens its case, Thursday in Day 24 of the substantive hearing.
The evidence by the EC is crucial because it was the institution that organized the elections whose results the petitioners have challenged.
Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, Chair of the EC will be led in evidence by James Quarshie Idun later today.
Judges take their seat and so too has the counsel on all sides.
Quarshie Idun introduces Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan as the star witness for the EC. He takes his seat in the dock. Just when the court clerk approaches him to swear an oath, Addison is up seeking the court’s direction on why it is Dr Afari Gyan who will lead evidence for the EC and not Amadu Sule.
He explains contrary to the rules, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan has not sworn to any affidavits. It was Amadu Sule who swore to the affidavits. He does not know the ambit under which Dr Gyan is coming to lead evidence. The affidavits of Suley amounts to evidence in chief. He says.
Quarshie-Idun is up. He says the party is the Electoral Commission. It is not only Amadu Sule but also Safo Kantanka who swore to the affidavits. The affidavits sworn of witnesses of the party and Afari Gyan is a party.
Presiding Judge Atuguba after conferring with his colleagues on the bench ruled Dr Afari Gyan is representing the EC as a party to the case and the Returning Officer of the 2012 elections. In pursuant to the directive of the counsel he can give oral evidence for the EC.
Quarshie Idun continues with his case.
He asks witness to introduce himself and what he does. Afari Gyan says he is an election administrator and started his work in Ghana’s EC in 1992. Dr Gyan touts his election credentials as having worked for the UN, Commonwealth, AU and ECOWAS.
Quarshie Idun asks witness if he knows the first, second and third Petitioners. Dr Afari Gyan responds in the affirmative and introduces each one of them.
He is asked if he knows the first and third Respondents. Dr Afari Gyan affirms and introduces them as well.
Quarshie Idun asks him why he is in court. He says he in court to testify on behalf of the EC and by virtue of being the chairman of the EC that supervised the 2012 elections.
“What is an election?” Quarshie Idun asks.
Dr Gyan says “In a democracy, election is a contest between candidates and the contest is decided by the votes of the people.”
Quarshie Idun asks Dr Afari Gyan to take the court through the processes of election. He says, among others,the registration of voters; the printing and distributing of ballots; the training of officials and party agents and the conduct and declaration of results.
Quarshie Idun asks witness to take the court through the Registration Process
Afari Gyan says it starts by establishing Registration centres. We have a principle in Ghana. Where you register is where you vote. Registration centres are polling centres. He says establishing a registration centre equates to establishing a polling station because of that, voter registration is polling station based.
“Can you tell the court how you establish a polling station?”
Dr Afari Gyan says it starts by selecting a suitable and spacious place. It must be accessible and close to the people. Then we give the place a unique code and a name. The code is unique because no two polling stations have the same code. The code is crafted to contain information that directs you to the location of the polling station. The code is a letter followed by six digits and may or may not end in another letter. If we see a code which comprises four digits we know immediately it is a fake code. He takes the court through the what every single letter means in a polling station code.
“How about the name of the polling station?”
Dr Afari Gyan says the name directs you more specifically to the location of the polling station. The combination of the code and the name will direct you to a specific place. A name like Taxi Rank Ngleshie Amanfrom makes it easier for one to locate the polling station.
“Voter ID Card?”
Dr Afari Gyan says says on the Voter ID you will find the code of the polling station and not the name.
“How would you describe of coding?”
Dr Afari Gyan says it is a permanent system of coding because it will only change if the country has more Regions than there are letters of the alphabet.
“Can you tell the court the kind of Voter Registration system we have in Ghana?”
He says the biodata- name, sex, age, parents name, residential address, hometown. All these information is asked to properly identify you.
In 2012 we collected this information but in 2012 we did a biometric registration. He says there are only two eletments that make the registration biometric. We used biometric technology to directly capture the finger prints of the applicant if they were available and to capture the photograph of the witness. Otherwise all other aspects are same.
“Does this system have any advantages?”
In biometric technology you are able to do the registration quickly and be more accurate in the collection of the data. But even more important it prevents identifies and removes multiple registration which was an important problem in our past registraton.
There were numerous occasions where people will register in Accra, then go to the Volta Region and Tamale to register. Because of the biometric system we were able to track all these multiple registration and removed them.
“What happens after the registration?”
Dr Afari Gyan says we give a Voter ID on the spot.
Were there other interests apart from the EC who were involved in the Registration process
The political party representatives took part in the registration process. They were given daily print outs of the number of people who had registered. This may the only country where we have political parties present during registration process. He says the EC has recommended the practice to other countries.
“What did the daily print outs given to the party reps contain?”.
Dr Afari Gyan says it contained the same information as you will find in the registration.
How many days did it take for the registration to be done?
We did not have enough money to buy one machine per a registration centre. So given the amount of money available we decided to spend ten days at each registration centre. Each machine served four polling after which it was rotated for 40 days.
Were there categories of people registered?
People who applied for registration did not have fingers at all. We classified these people as persons suffering from permanent trauma. There were also people who had fingers alright but the machine couldn’t take the finger prints so we classified those people as suffering from temporary trauma. These two groups of people are known to the Voters Register and the biometric registration device. In the register such people have an FO which means Face Only registration.
How many FO have you registered.?
Addison raises an objection to the question on FOs. He says these are matters not stated anywhere in the pleadings or affidavIts of the Second Respondent and so he finds it curious why they are bringing it up now. He says the issue about FO is a material issue which have not been alluded in court.
Quarshie Idun offers to rephrase the question
Bawumia says only 3,196 people were registered as FOs what do you say about that.
“I don’t know where he got that figure from” Dr Afari Gyan says. The figure is well over 70,951. An earlier figure was given which is lower than this. The new figure had gone up by 62 following the registration of people in the Kassena Nankana District. Even one region with the lowest number of FOs will be more than 3000.
Afari Gyan tells the court the categories of people who were registered abroad. He says the people who registered outside Ghana were assigned to a polling station in Ghana. So on voting day, the either voted by proxy or came came down to the polling stations to which they have assigned to, to come and vote. He insists no voting took place anywhere abroad.
What do you see for future registration in Ghana, Quarshie Idun asks but Addison raises an objection describing as “speculative and irrelevant.” Quarshie Idun offers to rephrase his questions.
Is there a relationship between Registration and Voting
There is an intrinsic relationship. We exhibit the registration and issue a provisional voters register. We had serious problem compiling the voters register. Some centres showed zero registration meaning nobody registered there at all. In some areas, much fewer people turned up than anticipated. In such situations we knew the situation was not correct. The daily print out gave a different information. We knew for a fact that people had registered in those places and yet the machine said nobody registered and because of that the people could not vote because their names were not found in the register. It was the fault of the EC and not the people who registered. So we attempted to do something about it by going through the data to recover lost data. Not all people were recovered. In order not to disenfranchise the people, we decided to go back and register the people. So we went back to 400 registration centres in order get those people back on the register. Nearly 11,000 people were recovered during the exercise even though not everybody was recovered. This is the origin of the question C3 on the pink sheet. C3 says how many people have been verified other than the use of the verification machines. It was to take care of people who would have valid voter ID cards but whose names could not appear in the register. When we discussed this with the political parties they said no. Nobody will vote without being verified. We agreed that facility will not be used. Unfortunately the forms had already been printed and the C3 could not be taken out. The presiding officers were told to leave the C3 place blank.
What else was done to the register?
He says the EC exhibited the register. Registered voters were told to go and check the register. There were challenges with males bearing the names of females and young persons given old ages. It was also to get people who were not qualified to be registered out of the register. One could also ask to get his or her name included if only you have a valid voter ID but could not locate your name.
Dr Afari Gyan says the register was printed after all the corrections were made. He says the total number of 14,301,680 people were registered. “This was the register that was used for the election and it was the register that was given to the political parties.”
How is the printing and distribution of ballots done?
Afari Gyan says you would have to determine the order of the candidates on the ballot before printing could be done. In some other countries the candidates are arranged in an alphabetical order but that is not so in Ghana. A ballot is organised to determine the order of the candidates. Four persons whose nominations were not acceptable sent us to court but the court ruled in the favour of the EC that it was right in disqualifying them. Eventually eight people were deemed to have qualified, balloted and had their faces printed on the ballot papers.
Do you know the number of ballot papers printed.
He says in printing, the EC had to print 10 per cent more for every polling station. He does not however give a specific figure of ballot papers printed. He says when the command is given to an appropriate compute the total number can be generated. Dr Afari Gyan explains why the EC had to give in some case more than 10 percent of the ballot papers for each polling station. He says the EC as their practice did not have to tear the ballot papers from the booklets just so it meets the 10 per cent mark. So that for instance in the smallest polling station in Ghana which has only four voters and it is located in Kpandai, the EC could could have given only one extra ballot paper out because it 1 can be 10 per cent of the figure four. But that was not the case. That polling station was given a booklet of 25 which is about 70 per cent. He says it is factual to say that the EC gave more than ten per cent of ballots, contrary to its own regulation but it is also a misunderstanding of the workings of the EC.
Training of Election officers
It is important to point out that none of the permant staff of the EC takes part in the administration of the election at the polling station level. At the polling station level temporary personnel are used. One presiding officer and four other polling station officer supervised the elections. He says about 130,000 people engaged to supervise the elections.
Philip Addison is up. He raises an objection to the lengthy answers being given by the witness. He says the witness appears to be lecturing instead of answering the questions straight to the point. He says most of the issues the witness has dealt since morning were not pleaded in their affidavits and found it intriguing why they leading evidence on it in open court.
Quarshie Idun says his client has responsibility to explain the issues further. He takes strong exception to comments that his witness his lecturing.
Judges take time to confer on the objection.
The judges by a 6-3 majority over rules the objection.
What calibre of people do you employ as temporary staff?
Getting the right calibre of persons is not easy, particularly in the remote parts of the country. It is also impossible to discern whatever political leanings they may have. The people work under tremendous pressure. And with the short training it would be a “miracle” if some of them do not make mistakes. They are hired for a period of three months and they cease to be employees of the EC after the Election.
Afari Gyan says about 270,000 party agents of political parties were trained. It attests to the importance accorded to the polling agents. They are not regarded as observers. Observers local or international have no rights to sign pink sheets or make a protest. The fact that the agents have a right to do all that, means the polling agent forms are part of the team trusted with the responsibility to make sure elections are properly supervised. He says the party agents risk perjury if they do not do their work according to the law.
On Election Day
Quarshie Idun asks witness to tell court what happened on Election Day.
Afari-Gyan begins with the “Special voting” which happened four days earlier before the main election. He says the special voting or early voting is the facility that has been given to security officials and others who due to their work are unable to vote the same day as all others. After the elections on special voting the votes are not counted as happens with the main election.
What happens after the votes are cast?
They are sealed and sent to the police station for custody. There is a register for special voting. There is at least one centre in each constituency. The special voting has its own pink sheet which is subsequently transferred to the collation sheet at the constituency level. Afari Gyan dismisses earlier assertion by Bawumia that no pink sheet is issued during special voting.
“Do the Special Voting Centres have codes?”
Afari Gyan says they tried to device special codes for them but the place where the special voting was going to take place was the same polling station so in some cases the codes for the polling stations were used
Procedure for voting
Quarshie Idun asks witness to tell the court the procedures during election.
Afari Gyan says every thing has to be taken to the polling station very early in the morning. He says the presiding must set up immediately he or she arrives at the polling station. The law required that certain parts of the form has to be filled. If the presiding officer does not fill that form, it is an irregularity. He is expected to open the ballot box for the public to see. If he doesn’t it an irregularity. When a voter gets to a station his name will be checked in the names reference list which will indicate where ones name is on the actual voters register. After checking, the officer will biometrically scan and your face will pop up. If you are an FO, your face also pops up. Those in the FO category ends their verification process and goes ahead to vote because they don’t have fingers to use in the verification process. However those who are not in the FO category must proceed to verification machine and be verified before they are allowed to vote. There are no serial numbers on ballot boxes or the envelopes, he says.
There is a certain part of the Pink sheet form that immediately after the voting closes, the officer must fill before opening the ballot box. If the person doesn’t fill it an irregularity. An agent can request a recount if he is not satisfied with the initial count. If there is a controversy over the count, everything is put back into the ballot box and sent to the constituency office where the presiding officer will recount. If there is no controversy at the polling station then the votes acquired by each of the candidate will be put in the pink sheet.
At the polling station is there any announcement made?
The Presiding officer must publicly announce the results to the hearing of the people present.
“Before a ballot is rejected, does anything happen?”.
The presiding officer must show the ballot paper to the agents and tell them the reason why he is rejecting it.
“What happens at the collation centre?”
At the collation centre the results from all the polling stations are compiled. The polling agents have a responsibility to
Two errors that can easily be committed at the collation centre.
It is that the figure or votes for one candidate could accidentally be given to another. If care is not taken in arranging the candidates as it is on the ballot paper, this kind of trans-positional error could easily occur and a lot of transposition errors were committed.
The second error is the picking of the score from the pink sheet onto the collation sheet and so Returning officers are cautioned in order not to commit these errors. The returning officer must compile all the results at the polling station and collate them. If a candidate’s agent is not happy with the collation he can request for a recollation.
Quarshie Idun asks if that was what happened in Dome Kwabenya.
Afari Gyan borrows Bawumia’s phrase “i was not there,” but Quarshie Idun corrects the witness saying the correct phrase is “you and i were not there.” the court breaks into laughter. But Afari Gyan says it is likely that in the Dome Kwabenya constituency, one candidate was not happy with the collation and asked for recollation.
The returning officer will announce the results but he is not the final official to make a declaration.
What steps are taken at the collation centre? Quarshie Idun asks
Afari Gyan says results do not come directly from the collation centre to the National HQ of the EC. He says the results are taken to the Regional EC HQ where all the party agents are present. The results will then be faxed from the regional offices to the national HQ in Accra.
EC strong room is just a small room with 10 fax machines and some computers and party representatives in the strong room. He says there were four representatives each from the major parties in the 2012 elections. When the results get to the strong room they are shown to the part reps who examine and later sign. He says
When a party has lost heavily in a constituency they do not want to sign the results. You are not here by any law but because of transparency they are brought into the strong room. When they sign the results, they are brought to me. The agents see the results even before i do. I am the last person to see the results.
“Can you tell the court what happened on the 9th of December”?
It was the day for the declaration of the results, Afari Gyan says. He adds on the 7th it came to the notice that there were problems with the verification machine and by law we all agreed that one would have to be verified before voting and because of that voting was suspended and continued the following day. He says 412 polling stations could not conclude on December 7 so had to be postponed.
Afari Gyan says he received a letter from the Chairman of the NPP requesting for a meeting with him. He says he then informed his two deputies about the letter. No sooner did the chairman of the NPP arrive in the officer requesting for two things;
1; Cause an audit of the verification machine to ensure it tallied with what happened.
2; Order a recollation of ballots at the constituency level to establish the true credibility of the results being declared.
Afari Gyan says he told Jake Lamptey that the request could not be granted.
He says because there were no protests at the various polling stations it was going to be difficult to honour the request.
“What you are asking me to do will take months at the earliest to do,” he reports to have told Jake Obetsebi Lamptey.
He says shortly after Jake and two other NPP officials left his office, he received a call from the chairman of the peace council requesting for a meeting. Apparently the NPP chair had copied the peace council in the letter.
A meeting was then scheduled later in the evening to discuss the concerns of the NPP.
In the meeting Jake said he had noticed discrepancies in the results. When asked what the discrepancy was, he said he had pink sheets to show the discrepancies. They (EC) officers retired from the meeting to take a preliminary look at the pink sheet evidence. He says the Jake brought pink sheets for seven constituencies. In five instances the pink sheet produced were less than the number of polling stations in the constituency.
In the case of two they brought more pink sheets than there were in the polling stations.
He said after scrutinising the evidence they realised the allegations of discrepancy could not be sustained and so he had to proceed with the declaration of the results.
Quarshie Idun attempts to tender a document which is part of the affidavits sworn by Amadu Sulley.
Addison raises an objection to the tendering of the document. Quarshie Idun initially insists the court is court of record and that the document which he seeks to tender is the same document the witness for the petitioners dwelt on in leading evidence. He pleads with the court to let him tender the document. On second thought Quarshie Idun withdraws the document and.
Parts of Pink Sheet form
Quarshie Idun asks witness to take the court through the various parts on the pink sheet.
Afari Gyan begins with:
A1 what is the number of ballots issued to this staion. It requires the presiding officer to indicate the total number of ballots given to the station. This portion is to be filled in at the start of poll.
A2 What is the range of serial numbers on the ballot papers. It indicates the range of booklets given to a particular polling station. This portion is also to be filled in at the start of poll.
B1 What is the number of voters on the polling station register
B2 what is the number of voters on the proxy voters list. Proxy voting is extended to people abroad.
This portion is to be filled at the end of poll before counting commences.
C1 What is the number of ballots issued to voters in the proxy voters list
C3 says how many people have been verified other than the use of the verification machines.
One of the judges asks what specific instructions were given to the presiding officers about the C3 column.
Afari Gyan says they were to put the number zero. Atuguba asks for emphasis whether the instruction was to leave C3 blank or to put zero there. Afari Gyan says he preferred the number zero because anybody could put any figure there.
“If C3 is filled what do you consider it to be?”
Afari Gyan says his immediate incline will be that the portion was filled in error. But if one wants to understand what the C3 is, in case it was filled, then there has to be an entire analysis of the form.
Quarshie Idun requests the court to adjourn hearing. Presiding Judge Atuguba grants the request and adjourns to Monday.