IEA: Presiding Officers Must Take Charge Of Polling Station Security

In recommendation SIX (6) of The IEA Electoral Reform Project, The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Ghana) is calling for a rethink of the security architecture and arrangements at polling centers during voting. The IEA recommends that security at the polling station must as far as possible be under the command of the Presiding Officer and security personnel assigned to the polling station on Election Day shall take orders from the Presiding Officer. However, the Police must take charge of other election-related security matters outside the polling station. In the view of the IEA, it is reasonable for any well meaning and level-headed Ghanaian to anticipate that the Regional or District Security Committees (REGSEC/DISEC) as constituted with political heads (Regional Ministers and MMDCEs) as chairs, would have difficulties dealing fairly and firmly with security issues and electoral crimes, especially where they themselves are candidates in an election. In other words, when an electoral offense occurs at the polling station, there would certainly be a conflict of interest situation where a DCE who is also contesting to be an MP is also the chairperson of the DISEC (especially when the culprit is a supporter of the incumbent DISEC Chairperson). The Security Agencies must therefore take charge of general security and the prosecution of electoral crimes. However, at the polling station, the Presiding Officer must have overall authority and command, including control of security personnel on duty on issues about voting or who has the right to be at the polling station. To give meaning to this, the IEA further recommends that: a) All electoral offences be prosecuted. Section 46 of Act 284, of the Representation of the Peoples Act, which requires the written consent of the Attorney-General, before prosecution of persons involved in electoral offences should be amended to allow the Police to carry out prosecution of all electoral offences. The EC guidelines on voter education and electoral offences must be published and incorporated into the training and education programmes of all election officials.