Why “No Verification, No Vote” Must Be Allowed to Stand
The so-called Independent Electoral Commission (EC) and the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) are at it again. This time the Flagstaff House and its fawningly dedicated surrogates at the EC are attempting to legislate a carte-blanche system by which just about anybody claiming to be a Ghanaian citizen could simply walk into any polling station and be permitted to vote by the polling assistant, whether the status and/or identity of that prospective voter can be readily verified by the Biometric Voting machine (BVM) or not (See “Voters Rejected By Verification Machine May Be Allowed To Cast Ballot” Graphic.com.gh 7/9/16).
This deliberate and devious attempt to “legally” corrupt the country’s electoral protocol must be rejected, in to-to, by Parliament and all peace- and democracy-loving Ghanaians. Instead, what needs to be done is to have a printed hardcopy of the names of all registered voters available at any particular polling station as a voter-verification backup documentation. In other words, any prospective voter whose name cannot be picked up or verified by the BVM will have to be cleared to vote only if his/her name appears on the printed list of all registered voters with addresses within that constituency and/or polling station.
Permitting unidentifiable prospective voters to simply fill up a form and then proceed to cast their ballot would be an inexcusable recipe for chaos and disaster. It would also be unwisely tantamount to the same electoral blunder, or rather trap, that the Supreme Court advised against during the 2012 presidential election petition’s proceedings. Indeed, if as Justice William Atuguba poignantly admonished the plaintiffs, led by the New Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, “All elections must be won at the polling station, and not in the courtroom,” then there can be no gainsaying that this new attempt to legitimize a patently and untenably corrupt practice would only plunge the country into deeper crisis, in the event of one of the major contenders justifiably concluding that it had been deliberately, and perhaps even criminally, railroaded by the Electoral Commission.
I have argued out this point before and firmly believe that it bears repeating the same here once more; and it is that what is direly needed in the lead-up to Election 2016 are two sets of Voters’ Register one of which lists the names of all registered voters and their political party affiliations, and another which lists all non-party-affiliated or Independent Voters. Needless to say, going into Election 2016, Ghanaians need to know the breakdown of number of voters who claim affiliation with any of the legitimately registered political parties. This would enable the Electoral Commission to keep proper track of all voters in order to ensure the effective forestalling of the unacceptably high incidence of over-voting, as was brought to light during the 2012 presidential election petition.
This does not necessarily mean that all party-affiliated voters are either bound or obligated to vote for only candidates of their party of affiliation. We know this not to be humanly possible, or even practicable, based on our experience with what has popularly come to be known as “Skirt-and-Blouse” voting.
One advantage of the preceding method of the documentation of registered voters is that it would facilitate the scientific tracking of crossover voters, as well as offer us a better sense of voting patterns across the country and the issues which appear to motivate such voting trends. Allowing unverifiable or unidentifiable people to simply fill out forms to enable them to readily circumvent a system established to ensure fairness and a level playing field, as it were, is only bound to further stultify an already complicated electoral process. What we need, in the words of Justice Atuguba, is a polling outcome that does not produce court-prone litigants, as the Supreme Court will not be able to deliver justice to even the genuinely and/or justifiably aggrieved.
Also crafting a Constitutional Instrument that seeks to indemnify polling assistants and Electoral Commission executives and staff who either deliberately or inadvertently prejudice the electoral process to suit their whims and caprices is simply unacceptable. The new bill before Parliament should be crafted or re-crafted in such a way as to place a high premium on professional accountability. Elections are about our destiny as a nation, not a mere game of chess or draughts.
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