Madam Jean Mensa, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, has asked Ghanaians to celebrate the successes of the 2020 Elections and document them; for there is so much knowledge, good experiences and best practice residing in the Electoral Commission of Ghana.
According to her, we need to acknowledge the fact that it took less than six (6) months to conduct a Presidential and Parliamentary elections that would usually take 2 years to undertake.
Also there is the need to celebrate the fact that in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and its uncertainties, as a country we were able to undertake all our electoral processes, from the preparation of brand-new Voters Register with over 17 million persons in 38 days, to the Exhibition of Register to the filing of Nominations to the Election Day activities without the spread of the COVID-19 virus and that no life was lost to COVID-19 as a result of the Commissions activities.
She higlighted the need to celebrate the fact that for the first time in our history, the Government of Ghana financed the Elections in its totally and that there was no donor assistance and funding.
She listed a series of activities and some processes we need to draw lessons and recommendations from, and document.
1. First of all, we need to acknowledge the fact that it took less than six (6) months to conduct a Presidential and Parliamentary elections that would usually take 2 years to undertake. We must applaud the hard work of EC staff across every region and district of this country, for the yeoman’s job they did. From the introduction of the new Biometric Voter Management System, comprising new Biometric Verification and Registration devices and software through to the replacement of the entire Voters Register to the Election day. It took the Commission six months from the 30th of June to the 7th December to successfully implement all its processes. It is important, for our own work today, and for future leaders and staff of the EC, that we document how this was achieved.
2. We need to celebrate the fact that in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and its uncertainties, as a country we were able to undertake all our electoral processes, from the preparation of brand-new Voters Register with over 17 million persons in 38 days, to the Exhibition of Register to the filing of Nominations to the Election Day activities without the spread of the COVID-19 virus and that no life was lost to COVID-19 as a result of our activities. We need to mark and document the fact that as a result of the stringent protocols put in place, the number of reported cases stood at zero by the end of the Registration Exercise, bearing in mind that the registration exercise was conducted at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. How this was achieved needs to be documented as best practice.
3. Despite the apprehensions around the COVID-19, the enthusiasm and participation of citizens in all our processes was high and beyond expectations. Indeed, despite the fears of a low turnout, we registered over 17 million eligible Ghanaians in 38 days and recorded a turnout of 79% on election day as compared to 67% in 2016. What accounted for the citizens active participation needs to be documented.
4. Let us celebrate the absence of long queues at almost all Polling Stations nationwide at the time when advanced democracies such as the USA experienced long queues, for several days at their Polling Stations. It is important that we document policies and processes that led to the absence of long queues.
5. We need to celebrate the fact that for the first time in our history, the Government of Ghana financed the Elections in its totally and that there was no donor assistance and funding.
6. We need to celebrate the fact that as a country, we successfully employed and deployed high quality robust technology to enhance the credibility of our electoral processes. We successfully used biometric technology to ensure that only unique individuals were registered to vote, doing away with the phenomenon of double registration and multiple voting. It is important to document how this was done.
7. We need to recognise the fact that as a country, technology was deployed to enable a section of our citizenry to check their registration details over the telephone at minimal cost. In fact, for the first time in our history, registrants were able to check their registration details all through to the Election day.
8. We need to celebrate and highlight the fact that for the first time in our history, we managed to reduce the cost of election by some 41% compared to the 2016, in spite of inflation and hikes in prices. As a country, we reduced the cost of elections from thirteen Dollars (13USD) per person to seven dollars, seventy cent (7.70USD) per person. It is not often we hear of such news and we need to record how this was achieved.
9. We need to highlight the fact that we succeeded in saving our dear nation a whopping sum of 90 million USD i.e. 522 million Ghana Cedi, a time when the cost of elections world-over keeps increasing.
And mind you, these savings were achieved in spite of additional costs associated with COVID-19 .i.e. PPE’s and materials and the airlifting of our offshore items which came at huge costs and in spite of the fact that unlike 2016, we paid full taxes on all items. Again, we made these savings in spite of the fact that we increased our Polling Stations by 10 thousand (10,000) and hired an additional 88 thousand, 6 hundred and 22 temporary officers.
“And so, there is a lot to celebrate. There is a lot to be thankful for. This is not to say that there is no room for improvement. For us at the Electoral Commission the sky is our horizon. We will not rest on our oars but will continue to collaborate with you and other stakeholders to discuss strategies and innovations that will lead to the strengthening of our systems,” she told IPAC.
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