The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has sued the Electoral Commission (EC) for failing to provide the party with a provisional copy of the voters register to guide it in the ongoing voters register exhibition exercise ending Friday September 20, 2019.
The voter’s exhibition exercise started on September 10, 2019 and was expected to end on September 17, 2019 but it was extended to September 20 by the Electoral Commission.
The exercise is meant to clean the register ahead of the upcoming referendum on the participation of political parties in district level elections, which will be an opportunity for the about 17 million registered voters to authenticate their details in the register.
Addressing a Press Conference, the National Chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo said a day to the end of the exercise the NDC is yet to receive a copy.
He warned that Ghana risked losing its enviable democracy if the incompetence of the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensah in the process to the 2020 general election persist.
Mr. Ampofo noted that recent electoral process organised by the Commission have recorded serious infractions and violation of the laws of the country, and if not properly addressed could plunge the nation into chaos in 2020 general election.
He alleged that the EC has grossly violated the election regulations including the Constitutional Instrument (C.I 91).
Mr. Ofosu Ampofo cited the EC deliberate refusal to give parties a copy of the Register, putting both provisional and previous register together, late arrival of register at polling station, incomplete register of 2012 and 2016 registers, incomplete or absence of 2019 provisional voters register, absence of Biometric Verification Devices at most polling stations, huge number of persons been categorised Face Only ( FO), among other issues.
He therefore called on Ghanaians as well as civil society organisations and the international community to caution the EC headed by Jean Mensah to ensure transparency before general elections.
Read the full statement below
PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS, COMRADE SAMUEL OFOSU AMPOFO, ON THE MANIPULATION OF GHANA’S ELECTORAL PROCESS BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF GHANA AND THE DANGERS IT PORTENDS FOR ELECTION 2020 ON THURSDAY, 19TH SEPTEMBER, 2019.
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.
Welcome to you all and thank you most sincerely for coming.
We invited you here today to share our observations on the ongoing exhibition of the voters’ register which is about to end. The exercise has been fraught with huge challenges and blatant violations of regulations especially in respect of the Public Election regulations (Voter Registration) C.I.91 which is the governing law under which the exercise is being conducted
I will proceed to set out our case.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you will recall that in the period leading to the commencement of the limited registration exercise, the National Democratic Congress raised several red flags which in our view if were not addressed, would adversely impact on the success not only of the limited registration exercise but also other election related activities. Most of the issues we raised were ignored in the usual arrogant and abrasive manner by the Jean Mensah-Bossman Asare led Electoral Commission.
First, we raised issues with the targets set by the Electoral Commission in relation to the expected number of qualified voters to be registered. We insisted on the need for reliable population data from the Ghana Statistical Service to guide the exercise.
We took the initiative to secure data from the Ghana Statistical Service to assist the EC in the planning process, but this data was flatly rejected by Jean Mensah – Bossman Asare led Commission and they proceeded to carry out the exercise without any due regard to advice.
Whereas the NDC estimated a registrable population of over 1.7 million from data given by Ghana Statistical Service, the Jean Mensah – Bossman Asare led Electoral Commission first insisted that only about 300,000, qualified voters would be registered. They later adjusted the figure to 500,000. Two days after the registration exercise had started the same people held a press conference at which they revised their estimates upwards to 700,000.
It came to pass that after the registration exercise, the Electoral Commission announced that it had registered 1.2 million voters – a figure, three hundred percent (300%) more than the EC’s initial projection of 300,000 in fact 500,000 people more than their final estimated figure of 700,000.
In spite of all that had gone on, the EC had the courage to pat itself at the back and claim their strong Publicity campaign had resulted in the registration of 1.2 million voters.
It was as if their Publicity campaign had through some magic caused 900,000 Ghanaians to turn age 18 overnight. Indeed, one of the reasons that enabled the EC to reach the 1.2 million voters was the of the EC to the use of the BVDs instead of the use of the VMS only as they had originally planned. Again, right from the very start of the exercise, this was the recommendation of the NDC but was initially rejected by the EC.
That exercise itself was riddled with problems – including shortage registration materials, ineffective planning and selection of registration centers across the country
– all of which was due to the stubbornness of the EC.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have only one day left for the exhibition of the voters’ register to close. Yet, the Jean Mensah and Bossman Asare team has not provided the NDC with a copy of the 2019 provisional register as required by law.
According to regulation 22(2) of the Public Elections Regulations (Voter Registration) C.I.91 and I quote, “At the end of the compilation of the provisional register as provided in sub regulation (1), a copy of the provisional register shall be given to each registered political party in the form determined by the Commission.”
It has however been alleged that the EC has selectively made copies of the provisional register available to the NPP. But in our case despite repeated requests and reminders we have to date not received any. In the circumstances, we have been compelled to go to court for an order directed at the Jean Mensah-Bossman Asare Commission to, among others, give us copies of the register as required by law.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Regulation 23(3) states that, “The Commission shall in addition to the publication provided in sub-regulation (1), post the provisional register on the website www.ec.gov.gh. of the Commission.”
Our last visit to www.ec.gov.gh shows that this has not been done – a fact that cannot support claims by Jean Mensah that, she has revolutionarised the IT infrastructure of the EC.
The absence of the register has greatly hampered our efforts at monitoring the exercise. Indeed, never in the electoral history of the fourth republic have we experienced such blatant dereliction of duty and covert manipulation by the EC to give unfair advantage to incumbent government.
Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in the history of elections management in this country, the voter’s registers are printed outside the EC, which itself has developed enough capacity to carry out this exercise over all these years. This conduct of the EC is not only against the law but is giving room to outside entities to have access to critical sensitive data of the EC which could compromise the credibility of elections.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the anomalies we have identified in the course of the verification exercise include the following:
Putting both provisional and previously finalized register (2012 & 2016) together;
Late Arrival of registers;
Incomplete/absence of portions of the 2012/16 voters register;
Incomplete/absence of 2019 provisional voters register;
Absence of Biometric Verification Devices (BVD) at most polling stations;
Most of the new registrants have been categorized Face Only (FO);
Reappearance of most issues cleared through adjudication or data processing;
Misalignment of polling station codes;
Bloated Exception list; and
Absence of Electoral Commission Officers.
PUTTING BOTH PROVISIONAL AND PREVIOUSLY FINALIZED REGISTER (2012 & 2016) TOGETHER
In accordance with Regulation 23(1) C.I. 91, the EC is to exhibit the provisional register for public inspection. The EC then decided to also exhibit the final register compiled between 2012 and 2018, and stated in its own exhibition manuals and adverts in the media that the registers would ne exhibited separately and throughout the exercise. In fact common sense dictates that an exhibition exercise necessitated by a recently completed limited registration exercise must have the names and details of the persons exhibited separately in the provisional register for ease of verification of the said names and details.
However, at most of the exhibition centers throughout the country, the 2019 provisional register has been combined with the previously finalized register 2012/2016 and surprisingly labelled “December 2016 Final Register.” That clearly is unacceptable, and it’s in complete breach of regulations 23(1) of C.I. 91 .
LATE ARRIVAL OF REGISTERS
Reports from all Regions indicate that materials arrived several days late in most of the constituencies throughout the country.
For example, in Wa West Constituency in the Upper West region, for the first three days of the exhibition exercise, the 2019 provisional registers were not available in one hundred and seven (107) exhibition centers in the constituency. And as at the fourth day, only forty-four (44) 2019 provisional registers had been made available in the n the entire constituency. Meanwhile these registers had major defects both in content and format with names of some of the communities interchanged.
In the Bono Region, the verification exercise commenced a day late in Wenchi, Tain and Sunyani West Constituencies.
In the Northern Region, for 5 days, about 35 polling centres in the Kpandai District did not open for the exercise due to non-availability of exhibition materials for the exercise.
Similar problems occurred in Yendi Municipality at Tusani and Kuni where late arrival of materials delayed the exhibition for three days.
These are just a few examples of what happened generally throughout the country.
INCOMPLETE/ABSENCE OF PORTIONS OF THE 2012/16 VOTERS REGISTER
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, one would have hoped that the previously finalized registers compiled between 2012/2018 which have been used for elections in the past and made available at all polling stations throughout the country would be without no anomalies. The registers are available but the reality on the ground is that most of the registers have several pages missing. A few examples will suffice.
In the Wa East Constituency in the Upper West Region, at Sombisi Primary school and Kojokura exhibition centers, the registers for the 2012/16 were incomplete because pages 11 – 24 and page 5 were respectively left out in the printing of the registers.
In the Asutifi North constituency in the Ahafo Region, at the Ampedwe Electoral area, pages 11 – 49 of the register did not appear.
There are also instances where Polling Stations were duplicated in the Northern region.
It will interest you to know that in Dohinayili at St Peters primary school in the Tamale Metropolis we have recorded cases where about one hundred (100) elderly voters had their names completely deleted from the register appeared for the exercise and had their names deleted completely.
INCOMPLETE/ABSENCE OF 2019 PROVISIONAL VOTERS REGISTER
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, strangely, at some exhibition centres across the region, some of the 2019 registrants have found their way onto the 2016 final register. A Specific example is in the Kwabre East Constituency in the Ashanti region. In this constituency, there is only one register containing names of those captured in the limited registration exercise and also of those registered in 2016. The problem this creates is that you cannot identify names of those who have been added illegally. It is also completely in contravention of C.I 91 which requires the EC to exhibit the PROVISIONAL REGISTER and not a combine register.
Examples of these occurrence are in the following:
1. Nana Darko’s house A & B, Ahwiaa
2. Assemblies of God Church A & B, Kenyase
3. Day care Brofoyedru A & B
4. R C Primary School A & B, Kenyase
5. Berima Owusu A & B Kenyase.
In the Bono region, there are major discrepancies in number of voters who registered during the limited voter registration exercise and what is contained in supposed 2019 provisional voters’ register. Evidence of this abounds in Jaman South, Dormaa West, Dormaa Central, Jaman North and quite a number of other areas across the region.
In the same Bono region, in particular Miremano, Jenjemireja, Tekese, Asuogya/Badukrom and Nyamefie Electoral Areas of the Jaman South Constituency, almost 400 registrants were recorded during the limited voter registration exercise. And yet, the 2019 provisional register provided shows only one (1) voter from these five electoral areas which is very suspicious, knowing very well these areas are strong holds for the NDC.
Similar instances occurred in the Oti region where about 120 voters in Nkwanta South Constituency could not find their names in the register even though they have duly registered and have their voter ID cards. Also in the Akan constituency only 20 registers were made available for 71 polling stations.
ABSENCE OF BIOMETRIC VERIFICATION DEVICES (BVD) AT MOST POLLING STATIONS
Historically Biometric Verification Devices (BVD) have assisted the EC in deciding more accurately voters who do not have good quality fingerprints to allow biometric verification. Such voters are classified by the EC as “Face Only” (FO). However, in most of the polling stations across the country, the Jean Mensah – Bossman Asare led Commission has refuse to send any BVDs to most of the Polling Stations. Ladies and gentlemen of the media, this is a major departure from the way the EC has handled exhibitions since the introduction of the biometric system in 2012. For instance, in 2016 this methodology was used and the EC recorded 63% turnout during the exhibition exercise.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are informed that the EC has 72,000 BVD’s machines in good condition in its custody which could have been deployed at the 28,992 centers with each center getting at least 2 of these machines. This would mean that in addition to verify their names the people would also have the opportunity to verify themselves biometrically at the same time. The failure of the EC to provide these machines at the various centers have gone to undermine the credibility of the whole exercise because the fact that somebody’s name is in the register does not itself ensure that on voting day the person would be successful in his/her biometric verification.
MOST OF THE NEW REGISTRANTS HAVE BEEN CATEGORIZED FACE ONLY (FO)
What seems to be the most dangerous anomaly is the disproportionate number of “Face Only” applicants among the 2019 newly registered population. We have observed with grave concern that the Jean Mensah – Bossman Asare led Commission has classified majority of the newly registered voters as “Face Only”. Normally this will suggest that their biometric details were not captured in good enough quality to allow biometric processing but in this case it appears the biometrics were totally ignored and hence, on the day of voting, they will be verified manually by Jean Mensah – Bossman Asare commission officers and allowed to vote. This is a recipe for massive abuse and electoral irregularities.
In the entire EC database of over 15 million voters, there are a little over 270,000 “Face Only” voters representing about 1.8 % of the voting population in Ghana. It is important to point out that the percentage of “Face Only” in any population increases with age. How then do we register 18 to 21-year olds and obtain well over 1000 % more “Face Only” voters?
We want to state without fear or favor that it is impossible to have such a huge number of “Face Only” while working with the same biometric system on a younger subset of the same population. This suggest that the Jean Mensah – Bossman Asare led Commission did not subject the applicants to biometric deduplication as has been done since the introduction of biometric system in 2012. A blatant disregard to Section 27 of C.1. 91 – Public Elections Regulations (Voter Registration), Regulation 1 and 2 (a) – enjoins the EC to match fingerprints in the database of the Commission by the automatic fingerprint identification system. However, in several polling stations nationwide, there were no BVDs, a clear violation of the law.
REAPPEARANCE OF ISSUES CLEARED EITHER THROUGH ADJUDICATION OR DATA PROCESSING
The numbers on the multiple registers list are very high and suggests an anomaly rather than a deliberate attempt on the part of applicants to engage in multiple registration. Therefore, there is the need to urgently have all the registers thoroughly scrutinized by all parties before the District Assembly elections.
MISALIGNMENT OF POLLING STATION CODES
Ladies and Gentlemen, it appears there is a deliberate attempt by the Jean Mensa-Bossman Asare Electoral Commission to create a total mess out of the register; so that in an attempt to clean it, they may brazenly manipulate the register to favour President Akufo-Addo who appointed them.
There are many register voters who cannot find their names in their provisional register and we believe that this deliberate otherwise it can only be describe as gross incompetence. For instance, in the Ellembelle Constituency in the Western Region, out of 6,249 people who register during the limited registration exercise almost 4,547(98%) of these registrants were not captured in the exhibition register. In the case of Effia Constituency also in the Western Region 4,325 people were captured in the limited registration exercise but 1,087 persons representing 43.4% who were registered had their names captured in the provisional register which was exhibited. In other words, as many as 2,438 persons representing 56.4% new registrants had their names omitted from their provisional register.
This has come about as a result of the EC capturing the information from two different sources. The barcodes are captured at the various electoral areas by the BVD but the EC used the VMS at the District Offices for the inputting of the data and this resulted in many names being left out.
The data system of the EC has also been compromised resulting in the misalignment of Polling Station Codes. The effect is that, some people who transferred their votes this year have mistakenly being placed in different districts other than their original districts.
BLOATED EXCEPTION LIST
Another worrying phenomenon is the unusually high number of persons placed on the Exception/Exclusion list. These are people that Vice President Bawumia has falsely accused of not being citizens or ordinarily resident in Ghana; and for which reason Jean Mensa and Bossman Asare have entered their names on this dubious exception list.
These persons mostly reside in the border towns of Ghana and it may appear that this exercise has been carried out to suppress the votes of the perceived NDC stronghold at a time that the EC is globe-trotting to register every Ghanaian living everywhere to vote.
ABSENCE OF ELECTORAL COMMISSION OFFICERS
Ladies and Gentlemen, at a time that Jean Mensa is claiming to have injected good corporate governance tenets into the running of the Electoral Commission and boosting the moral of the staff of the EC, in this voters’ register exhibition exercise several polling stations lacked exhibition officers from the Electoral Commission.
To save time, we will cite few examples such as Nkwanta South Constituency and most polling stations in the Sunyani East Constituency. In Sunyani East, there were no EC Exhibition Officers on the first day and only few on the second to sixth days of the exercise. Some of the polling stations are as follows:
CMB Shed Adedease polling station (J013302) in Atuahene Electoral Area.
Cocoa Shed Nsagobesa polling station (J013102) in Yawsae Electoral Area.
Cocoa Shed Tanoano polling station (J010303) in Nkrankrom Electoral Area.
The Church Domsesre polling station (J013002) in Nwawasua Electoral Area
TERMINATION OF CONTRACT WITH STL
We have been informed that the EC has terminated its contract with STL. We like to ask the following questions and hope to receive answers from the EC.
When was the STL contract terminated?
Was due process followed in terminating the contract?
Which body or entity duly constituted under law terminated the contract?
Who is managing the IT system now at the EC and how was that entity procured under the procurement laws of Ghana?
How come that political parties who are major stakeholders in the electoral process in this country have completely been ignore in this whole exercise?
Ladies and Gentlemen, we do not find it pleasant to always complain about simple and basic things especially after seven successful elections since 1992; and which has won Ghana accolades all over the world.
To keep quiet and fold our hands is not an option. For, in Jean Mensah and Bossman Asare, President Akufo-Addo has set in motion a blueprint for chaos in the elections slated for next year.
The attempts to predetermine the outcome of the 2020 elections through a conscious manipulation of the processes leading to it will not be countenanced.
The preponderance of irregularities and unnecessary impediments in almost all activities undertaken since Jean Mensah and Bossman Asare took office are not teething problems. They are a deliberate ploy. Their posture gives cause for concern.
From the shambolic referendum on the creation of new regions last year, the poorly organized limited voter registration exercise and to the current problems with the voter exhibition exercise, a pattern has emerged of a conscious plan to suppress votes in perceived NDC strongholds while ensuring an increase in the voting population in NPP strongholds.
We invite you the media, civil society, the general moral society and the diplomatic community to closely monitor the conduct of the EC under Jean Mensah and Bossman Asare. We must make common cause to ensure that the EC complies with its own regulations and that it is accountable, transparent and fair minded.
Decisions of the EC must be above board. A peaceful and successful election is the result of collaboration between all stakeholders. No member of the Commission should see himself or herself as an appointee of President Akufo-Addo with the sole mandate of ensuring safe passage to a second term.
The NDC is willing to cooperate with the EC but Jean Mensah and Bossman Asare must demonstrate willingness to listen to suggestions that will inure to credible elections as has happened under previous administrations of the EC.
Once again, we thank you all for coming.
By: Paul Mamattah