This is going to be a long weekend, especially for New Patriotic Party (NPP) folks. For what they are interested in is the cross-examination of Dr Afari Gyan, not his detailed explanation of the electoral process.
It is during cross-examination that the very errors Afari Gyan explained today will be dissected to determine whether those errors cost someone the presidency.
Details of what constitute irregularities leading to nullification of results in particular polling stations will also be explained: For instance, over-voting will be given a final definition, �no verification no vote� will be settled, the actual and intended use of serial numbers will also be put to rest.
These clarifications will give a solid basis for the impending audit.
As to whether these will have any effect on the final ruling of the petition, let me just say, �Only God knows.� For now I will outline my observations and discuss ways in which elections could be rigged in Ghana.
After listening to Afari Gyan�s �lecture� today and correlating it with Asiedu Nketia�s testimony, I present to you, �Of the ways of rigging an election in Ghana.�
The number one opportunity to rig an election is presented during registration. In Afari Gyan�s own words, party polling station agents are not mere observers or exalted observers as Dr. Bawumia explained. They are integral part of the process to ensure transparency and a free and fair election.
But you and I know that there are certain remote areas that party agents would not want to risk their lives to go for some Gh20 Cedis. In these areas, the registration is free for all; foreigners, Chinese, even new born babies can be registered. Once registered, they are entitled to a vote come election day. This is when the election is won. As to who determines the winner, wait till number four.
This is another great avenue to rig an election. Actually, this could be done in such a smart way that it may even escape the definition of rigging. Most of the folks don�t pay attention to applying ink on their thumb for indication of their candidate preference on the ballot paper. If a slight mistake is made while thumb printing the candidate of choice and the ink accidentally touches the image of another candidate, it becomes a rejected ballot. The strategy here is, with the aid of Electoral Commission (EC) presiding officers, lead voters in the opponent�s stronghold to generate as many rejected ballots as possible.
In Afari Gyan�s own words, there is an error called transposition. He gave an example of a potential scenario in which leaving out a zero when writing 11,000 results in the number 1,100 causing a candidate to lose 9,900 votes instantly.
Although the example fits more of a transcription error, the bottom line is returning officers can change numbers to favor a particular candidate. They just have to give a flimsy excuse and refuse to append their signature. This explains all the unsigned pink sheets.
Employment of temporary EC Presiding Officers and Returning Officers
Oh My God! Did Afari Gyan leave disturbing clues? All of these hundreds of officers are selected without a background check? How does one even perform background checks in Ghana? There is no underlying database to facilitate these checks. The strategy is to make sure your party affiliates are the ones applying and being hired for these positions. These individuals in fact have a direct hand in determining the election results. Again in Afari Gyan�s own words, although he is the returning officer in chief, he is the last person to see the results from the polling stations. There are returning officers at the polling station level, constituency level, regional level and finally the national level.
These returning officers are de facto kingmakers of the Members of Parliament and President in Ghana.
They can intentionally cause transposition and transcription errors at the polling station level, constituency level and the regional level well in advance of the results getting to the strong room.
They can cause over-voting by completing pink sheets with manufactured numbers.
The above, in my opinion, constitute the loopholes that present opportunities for elections to be rigged. Registration and Employment of temporary EC Presiding Officers and Returning Officers are particularly compelling avenues. The items below could also be employed as tactics but they could easily be explained away as errors. If the errors cost the plaintiff/opposition candidate the presidency, it is for the Supreme Court to determine. These points to the possibility that the election was probably rigged in ways we are not even discussing. Now to the rest:
Stealing of ballot boxes.
This is old school, and is not really used anymore. Nevertheless, there were so many rumors that political parties were training polling station security officers to guard ballot boxes instead of training polling station agents to be more vigilant during collating.
Counting of ballot papers.
Hardly used anymore except in very remote areas where polling station agents party were absent.
Counting is now done in the open with hundreds of observers. Why steal here? Waiting for the returning officer to transpose the numbers may be a better way to rig.
Over-voting really falls under the role of the EC presiding and returning officers. If you ensured that they were your party members, then you had full assurance of victory. The main strategy here is to ensure that the number of votes indicated, does not exceed number of registered voters. Remember, that is the motivation for registering as many people as possible including new born babies. This is why Asiedu Nketia insists on defining over voting as, �To have occurred, when the total number of votes cast exceeds registered voters.�
This doesn�t make any sense because some registered but couldn�t vote. So over-voting should be the number of votes cast over total number of ballots issued.
There you have it! Next time remember, elections are won during registration and during the employment of those temporary workers, we call EC presiding officers and most importantly EC returning officers at the polling station level, constituency level and regional level.
Source: Kobina Nyanteh/ [email protected] - D-Guide
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