The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) says exorbitant filing fees imposed on Presidential and Parliamentary candidates as well as a concerning lack of financial transparency on behalf of the EC were both highlighted as significant problems that must urgently be addressed.
CODEO noted that whilst the Electoral Commission (EC) did indeed deliver free and fair elections, and that there had been significant improvement in certain areas, several issues remain a cause for concern.
The call was made at a press conference to present the findings from its observation and review of the 2016 presidential election.
In the 2016 general elections, the fees for filing as a presidential candidate was GH₵50,000 while parliamentary candidate GH₵10,000.
According to CODEO, those figures are far too high and overly restrictive.
The report noted that the EC did not publish relevant fees in an appropriate manner or time prior to the elections, which placed certain candidates and parties at a disadvantage.
CODEO wants the EC to be transparent with its funding and expenditure, and once this is achieved, a schedule of fees for nomination and accreditation can be developed and assurances made that the fees are fair and reasonable, as well as delivered within an appropriate timeframe.
Not only would better transparency help with fees, but it will also help boost both the public and political parties trust in the commission, and ensure that as a public institution the EC is covering only administrative costs with no doubts regarding misuse of funds, it added.
It was also noted that fees levied for obtaining accreditation for both domestic election observers and media were seemingly arbitrary, and again restrictive.
With regards to election financing, CODEO believes it is the sole responsibility of the Ghanaian government to fund its own elections completely, including security expenditure, without relying on private and foreign donors.
The EC rely heavily on private donations to run its operations, but again it is difficult to determine how these funds are being spent as the government only reviews state and public funds in its budget assessment.
If the government were to be the sole entity responsible for funding the EC, then transparency can be improved as well as the efficiency of the commission along with it.
As is the recommendation of the Constitutional Review commission, a Democracy Fund for Independent Constitutional Bodies must be established to sustain financing, and a comparative study must be undertaken analysing election expenses in Ghana with those of other African countries in the hopes of improving efficiency and cost management practices.
If these improvements can be made by the 2020 election, it would go a long way toward further establishing election practices in Ghana as those of a high global standard.