Rejected Ballots, Minors And Foreigners Registration A Major Concern For Us – EC Chairperson

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Madam Jean Mensa, has outlined some challenges faced by the Electoral Management Body during the 2020 election processes.

She made this known in her speech during the assessment of the 2020 election with the IPAC today, May 18 at the Alisa Hotel in Accra.

Rejected Ballots

According to the Electoral Commissioner, the the Commission spent considerable effort in designing a ballot paper to reduce the incidence of rejected ballots by creating a wide space between each candidate’s box to prevent the mark of the thumb from seeping into the next box. And yet, they still recorded 314,901 rejected ballots.

“One issue that confronted us as a nation was the phenomenon of rejected ballots. To date, in spite of the advances made in the design of the ballot, we have continued to witness a disturbing trend of a high number of rejected ballots,” she bemoaned.

She says the Commission intends to undertake an audit to determine the root cause and find workable solutions to eliminate this problem when the time is right.

"Unfortunately, our laws do not allow us to take possession of the ballots until after a year but we intend to undertake an audit to determine the root cause and find workable solutions to eliminate this problem," she said.

Manual verification

Jean Mensa said another challenge the Commission is keen to address is the use of Manual Verification.

“As a Commission, we were hoping to reduce this significantly as we used both facial features and fingerprints to register applicants. My colleagues assure me that the 11,000 recorded instances of manual verification is relatively small, compared to the number of Voters on the Register and the number of Polling Stations i.e 38, 622. The 11,000 cases compared to the Polling Station and Voters Register amounts to 0.08% of the total votes cast. This is very insignificant. In spite of the fact that the figures are small, our aim is to reduce this drastically in the near future.”

Encouraging minors and foreigners to register as voters

She discloses that on the front burner of discussions at the Commission is the perpetuation of the illegality of encouraging minors and foreigners to register as voters.

She said during the 2020 Exhibition Exercise, the EC went to great length by collaborating with opinion leaders and civil society at the grass root level to expunge the names of minors and foreigners from the register.

“Very often fingers are pointed in our direction as if to say that the Commission registered the minors and foreigners but we need to take the time to identify the root cause of this phenomenon. We must ask ourselves, “na who cause am?”. It is certainly not the Electoral Commission and its officials who cart illegal persons to the registration centres. We need to re-look at our Laws and provide stringent sanctions for perpetuators of this illegality.”