Monday, December 29, 2008


THE Electoral Commission (EC) says it is "almost set" to conduct the Sunday, December 7, 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections.
All logistics for the polls have been deployed.
The only activity left is the airlifting of logistics to three areas — the Fumbusi area, which falls within the Yagaba/Kuore Constituency, the Salaga Constituency and Donkorkrom that encompasses the Afram Plains area.
The military is to lift the materials to these areas tomorrow, as well as sensitive materials such as ballot papers that are by convention only given to electoral officers on the day of voting.
The Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, made this known at the final press briefing before the elections in Accra yesterday.
The briefing, dubbed "The last supper of the EC and the press" by the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Ransford Tetteh, was also attended by the Director of Operations of the EC, Mr Sarfo Kantanka, the Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr George Sarpong, the Vice-President and the Executive Secretary of the GJA, Messrs Affail Monney and Bright Blewu, respectively.
Dr Afari-Gyan said the areas yet to be supplied were areas that were difficult to access, like the Yagaba/Kuore Constituency known as the overseas areas and the Afram Plains area that stretched across four regions, with parts to be found in the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and Volta regions.
He said although it was difficult to deploy logistics and sensitive election materials to 22,000 polling stations nation-wide on polling day, the EC had planned very well and an overwhelming majority of polling stations would have the required materials to start early on voting day.
Dr Afari-Gyan, however, had a word of assurance for those who, through some unforeseen circumstance, would face some delays before casting their ballots.
"If the polls do not start at 7.00 a.m. prompt, it is no cause for worry. An extension of the period of voting is automatically written into the law. The law says that if at 5.00 p.m. there are people still in the queue to cast their ballots, then no matter how many there are they all have to be served before the polls close," he explained.
He went on to explain further that information that the voting would start at 7.00 a.m. did not mean that the first ballot would be cast at 7.00 a.m.
That was because officials of the EC, before beginning the process of voting, had to do some documentation relating to the number of people voting at the polling station and also record the total number of ballot papers for the polling station by indicating the serial range of a ballot booklet.
He said providing all those might take time and so the first ballot would not necessarily be cast at exactly at 7.00 a.m., adding that no one had to be agitated about that.
Questioning Dr Afari-Gyan, journalists wanted to know whether those who could not vote for their parliamentary candidates last Monday during the special voting could do so on Sunday.
He was also asked about the earliest possible time for the formal announcement of results by the EC.
Other issues were whether the EC would provide adequate lighting when it got dark and voting was still ongoing and whether people without voter identification cards could vote.
Dr Afari-Gyan explained that the special voting exercise was undertaken in accordance with the general practice of voting in the country.
“Whereas anyone can vote for a presidential candidate anywhere in the country because the presidential contest is taken as a contest for a single constituency, that is the whole nation, the parliamentary contest is different, with several constituencies.
“No one can, therefore, vote for his parliamentary candidate in a different constituency if the person has not previously transferred his or her vote,” he explained.
He said the challenges of the special voting were lessons, adding, however, that those who could not vote for their parliamentary candidates could not do so on Sunday.
On the announcement of the results, Dr Afari-Gyan said with the parliamentary results, they were announced and known in the constituencies by the returning officer, but for the presidential he was the returning officer and made the announcement only after all results from all constituencies had been brought to the operations room of the EC and collated, noting that that would take about 72 hours.
He said assurances had been received from the Electricity Company of Ghana for dedicated supplies of power on Sunday, while observer missions and civil society organisations had been asked to select a representative each for the operations room of the EC from where the collation of the presidential results would be done.
Mr Tetteh expressed the belief that the country would still be a united sovereign state after the elections.
He said, however, that that could only be possible if journalists, the security agencies and the public all played their part in ensuring credible, peaceful, free and fair elections.
Mr Sarpong asked journalists to establish correctly their facts and put their information into the right context before publishing during the elections.

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