Job Done! Two Major Lessons To Learn From The Biometric Elections By Charles Akrofi

December 7th caught the international eye on Ghana as the country seeked to deepen its democracy by going to the polls to elect political leaders.

The practice is remodeled every four years, giving the mandate to electorates to exercise their political will.

Unlike other countries on the continent that have ever experienced political turmoil, Ghana have since 1992 conducted free, fair and transparent elections and transferred power without imploding. This year?s marked the sixth of its kind and the country is seen by many as a beacon of peace and democracy in a region besieged with political instabilities.

Almost ten parties contest the political seat every four years in Ghana, however, the two major ones making the front is the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the major opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

These parties have over the past years tasted the political cake more than any other party.

However in recent times, one new party also seems to have won the Ghanaian heart. The Progressive People?s Party (PPP) was formed this year and has presented itself as the only viable, credible and best alternative to the NDC and NPP.

Its founder, Papa Kwesi Nduom broke away from the Convention People? Party (CPP) after a few squabbles ensued between the two.

The party held massive campaigns throughout the country and was virtually seen as the best apparatus to break the bond of a two party system. However, this was not exactly so.

On December 7th, Ghanaians went to the polls as another test of a stable democracy and history was once again repeated as the incumbent NDC won the seat against the opposition NPP.

The incumbent John Dramani Mahama polled 50.70 percent of vote cast against his opponent Nana Akuffo Addo, who finished with 47.74 percent.

The election marked the first of the biometric one and as such some hiccups were recorded both on the part of the Electoral Commission and electorates.

It appeared most polling centres had peculiar problems with verification machines malfunctioning along the process. This left many electorates disenfranchised. Centres with standby machines could however deal with the situation while others without standbys were left to wallow in abject handicap. The only option was to wait for other centres to finish collating their results then their machines could be borrowed.

This glitch led to delays in collating results at some centres in the country.

For all important events such as elections, it is important to empower all institutions that are involved in the electoral process to fully administer their duties. Interferences such as the lack of standby machines could put the whole exercise in jeopardy.

This year, rejected votes stood at 251, 720 and this high number have aroused the need to intensify voter education both in the media and at polling centres to reduce rejected ballots.

I was privileged to observe the exercise at one of the centres in the Dangme West districts of the Greater Accra region and a voter, unaware of its implication mistakenly stained a ballot paper with the ink on his finger. An electoral officer who was quick to notice prompted the guy to change it.

Circumstances of this nature results in the increase number of rejected ballots. Mechanisms must therefore be put in place to ensure this number is reduced in subsequent elections.

In all these, it is worth noting that the election was peaceful and no other party won but, Ghana.

?A democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates?

– Gore Vidal.

Charles Akrofi is a Freelance Journalist

 By Charles Akrofi


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