ELECTION PETITION: Serial Numbers “Irrelevant To Election Results” – Afari - Gyan

Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) has told the Supreme Court in the ongoing election petition that the serial numbers embossed on electoral record papers (pink sheets) are irrelevant to, and also bear no significance to declared election results. The Petitioners had claimed in their pleadings that duplication of serial numbers on pink sheets was one of the vehicles used by the President and the governing National Democratic Congress in collusion with the Electoral Commission to rig the 2012 elections. However, Dr. Afari Gyan, on Monday, June 3, 2013 told the Court during his evidence-in-chief that the serial numbers on the pink sheets have “absolutely no relevance to the compilation and declaration of results”. He maintained that “the pink sheets are distributed randomly”. According to him, the Electoral Commission identifies all polling stations “by their unique code and by their name”. “…In fact throughout this trial so far, I’ve never heard anybody identify a polling station by a serial number”. He clarified that even if two pink sheets had the same serial numbers in different polling stations, “that will in no way affect the validity of the votes cast”. Explaining why duplicate serial numbers on pink sheets “will not have any effect whatsoever on the validity of the votes cast”, Dr. Afari Gyan said: “1. Each of the two polling stations will have a different code and a different name; 2. there will be two different presiding officers and two different sets of officials; 3. There will be two different sets of candidates’ agents and there will be two different results entirely, so I see no problem”. He noted that “when the results are taken from the polling station to the collation centre, they are dealt with on the basis of polling station codes and not serial numbers, so I do not see the basis for the allegation surrounding the serial numbers; I see no basis at all”, Dr Afari Gyan insisted. Similar, Dr. Afari Gyan, when he first appeared before the Court on Thursday May 30, 2013 debunked claims by the petitioners that there were serial numbers on ballot boxes and tamper-safe envelopes in which ballot materials were sealed. Dr. Afari-Gyan told the Supreme Court that: “There aren’t”, adding that: “I don’t know why somebody is trying to invent serial numbers for some of these items that are in our custody”. The Lead Counsel for the Petitioners, Philip Addison, made copious references to serial numbers on tamper-safe envelopes during his cross-examination of the key witness for the first and third respondents, Johnson Asiedu Nketia. Similarly, the key witness for the petitioners, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, also alluded to serial numbers on ballot boxes as well as serial numbers embossed on pink sheets during his testimony to the court. Dr. Afari- Gyan, however, clarified during his evidence-in-chief on Thursday that: “…The stamps we use have no serial numbers; they are distributed at random; it’s only a number; we just share them". He insisted that: "…There are no serial numbers for ballot boxes and there are no serial numbers for the tamper-safe envelopes”.