The Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, Mrs. Charlotte Osei is in the United Kingdom at the invitation of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) for an official engagement on Ghana’s upcoming elections.
Addressing an audience of Ghanaians in the UK, UK policymakers, researchers, senior business representatives, diplomats, civil society representatives, media, academics and other experts, Mrs. Osei said the EC has a legacy to protect and for that matter a very real challenging one in December.
She gave the assurance that the EC will ensure that the 2016 elections is a triumph and not a disaster.
She believes that the Electoral Commission’s previous successes were undoubtedly powered by its core staff with support of the tens of thousands of the temporary election officers.
According to her a significant majority of the core staff are still at post; and as part of efforts to improve on the electoral outcome, the commission has further developed the capacity of the staff of the commission.
“Not only that, we have increased the educational qualification of the temporary officers we would be using for the elections. We have also improved the quality of their training to ensure they deliver better. And of course, they will have the same experienced team supervising this year’s elections.”
Mrs. Osei said the Commission has been responsible for the successful conduct of the previous elections which have made Ghana earn the solid reputation as a stable and mature democracy and an example for the rest of the continent, if not the world.
The Electoral Commission today, according to the Chairperson, is completely different from what it was even a year ago.
“We have done a great deal of reflection both as an institution and following extensive consultations with our stakeholders, we have rolled out a series of internal reforms designed to evolve the Commission into an even more dynamic and efficient institution.”
She said as part of those reforms, the EC has separated Human Resources from Administration.
This she added, is to enable the Human Resource directorate to focus more on the duties of personnel management, training and performance management.
Mrs. Osei said the new department for Administration and Regional Coordination is now responsible for all administrative and logistical issues.
“We have restructured the operations directorate to become Directorate of Electoral Services. We have a new Communications Department, which is now more open, more responsive and more proactive in dealing with all publicity, public education and communications issues. We have also worked very hard indeed to perfect our specific electoral systems. Following the 2012 election petition judgment, we constituted a reform committee to synthesize the reforms proposed by the Supreme Court for implementation.” She said
Mrs. Osei highlighted some of the reforms the EC has already implemented and are implementing to enhance the integrity of the electoral process.
These according to her, include: “We have begun continuous voter registration in addition to periodic registrations.
• For the first time, we used Biometric Verification Devices for exhibition of the Provisional Voters Register.
• We have raised the minimum educational qualification requirements for various levels of election officials.
• Persons With Disability and vulnerable persons such as pregnant women, nursing mothers and the aged, will be given priority at all polling stations on Election Day.
• We have made clear provisions regarding processes and procedures to be followed to adjourn polling in the event of a disruption caused by nature or human activity.
• Election Officials & Party Agents will swear an oath before a Magistrate or Judicial officer instead of an officer of the Commission.
• We are working on multiple measures to reduce the incidence of rejected ballots.
• We have reduced the number of voters per polling station to cut down on queues on Election Day. We are appointing very knowledgeable persons as collation officers for each constituency as a safeguard against collation errors.
• We will publish the Presidential Election Results for each polling station on our website.
• We are replacing the “Strong Room” with a more open, accessible and transparent National Results Collation Centre.”
Mrs. Osei said the EC is resolute in doing everything it can to deliver lawful as well as credible, fair, transparent and inclusive elections.
She is therefore, confident that the commission will succeed because of the recent innovation and reforms have strengthened the commission to leave up to the task, that will further consolidate the country’s 24 years of democratic and electoral success.
Click on attached for full details of the Chairperson’s address.