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EC admits irregularities occurred in elections but…

Source: NPP Communications Directorate

The Electoral Commission has stated in its written address that irregularities, indeed, did occur in the conduct of the 2012 elections, however, they are of the opinion that these irregularities did not affect the results as declared by the Chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan. However, the EC in its address did not attach any annexures of its analysis to show that indeed the irregularities did not affect the results of the 2012 elections.

The “Address filed on behalf of the 2nd Respondent” is contained in 15 pages, a clear improvement over the 5-page affidavit sworn to by Amadu Sule, in response to the 2nd Amended petition of the petitioners.

According to the EC, they acknowledge that “in completing the ballot accounting part of the pink sheet, many of the Presiding Officers made clerical errors and left blank spaces wrongly and made errors which were not logical. The petitioners did not submit any other evidence of the alleged irregularities other than as appearing on the face of the pink sheets.”

Despite the petitioners claiming throughout the trial that the six main categories of irregularities malpractices, violations and omissions in various combinations which affected the results of the election in the 11,842 polling stations are laid out in 24 grounds, the Electoral Commission disagreed with this assertion, stating that the “petitioners put forward three grounds as the basis of their petition.”

The EC throughout its 17 paragraphed address relied heavily on the evidence of the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, just as was done by Tony Lithur, counsel for the 1st Respondents.

On over-voting, the Electoral Commission stated that the petitioners did not show how this irregularity related to Article 42 of the Constitution and Regulation 24 (1) of CI 75. According to the EC “the petitioners have not shown how these two provisions apply to the petition since Article 42 relates to the right of a citizen to vote and his entitlement to be registered as a voter and Regulation 24 (1) states that a voter cannot cast more than one vote when a poll is taken.”

Article 42 of the constitution states that “Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.”

Regulation 24(1) of CI 75 also states that “A voter shall not cast more than one vote when a poll is taken.” In the view of the EC, no case of over-voting occurred since the petitioners were not able to prove that any person voted or attempted to vote more than once during the 2012 elections, adding that none of the polling station agents of the petitioners protested during the counting of the votes.

Touching on the “No signature by the Presiding Officer”, the EC claimed that the “Petitioners have not shown how that affected the outcome of the elections.”

This statement, strangely did not take into account Article 49 of the Constitution of Ghana, and as captured in Regulation 36(2) of C.I. 75, which requires the presiding officer to sign the results declaration form before he can validly announce the results of the election.

On the allegation of No biometric verification, the Electoral Commission notes that the petitioners “did not produce a single piece of evidence of a person who saw anyone voting without having been biometrically verified.”

Despite Regulation 30 (2) of CI 75 stating that “the voter shall go through a biometric verification process,” the EC in paragraph 22 stated that, “it cannot be stated that biometric verification is limited to finger prints.”

On the use of duplicate serial numbers, the EC described this category as the “weakest link in an already weak chain.” The EC explains that “the number was inserted not by the 2nd Respondent but by the printer,” even though the EC boss has stated in the witness box that he needed the serial numbers for his own counting purposes.

It is recalled that the EC stated that it printed a second set of pink sheets because it was expecting more candidates to contest the elections. Strangely enough, the second set of pink sheets also bore the same name of the 8 candidates, in the exact order as contained in the first set of pink sheets.

The EC’s position on the occurrence of “same polling station codes with different results” was that this took place because “the same polling station was used for special (early) voting and later used for voting on Election Day or in places where there were split polling stations.”

However, it is recalled that Counsel Philip Addison produced a list of polling station pink sheets which showed that the same polling station codes had been used for different polling station results. In cross-examining Dr. Afari-Gyan on them, the Electoral Commission boss informed the court, on almost every single pair that it was because one of the pair of pink sheets was a record of the results for the special voting as the polling stations had also been used for special voting, though he could not point out to the court which specific pink sheets were those for special voting.

When put to strict proof, Dr. Afari-Gyan, however, could not stand by his position and noted that he had not said that all the polling stations had been used for special voting.

In concluding, the EC also gave the assurance that it was going to do everything possible to minimize the occurrence of administrative errors, explaining that “the EC hires over one hundred thousand temporary officials, who are trained for only a short time, to conduct the presidential and parliamentary elections.”