By Bernice Bessey .
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to urgently look into the extremely high incidence of manual verification at the various polling stations, and the extremely high voter turn-out figures in some polling stations.
According to CODEO, most polling stations observed attained more than the required turn-out threshold of 50 per cent (50%) of total valid votes cast, while turn-out figures at some polling stations were unusually high – in some cases as high as 99 per cent (99%).
This, it noted, that raises serious questions about the integrity of the process.
Contained in CODEO preliminary findings on the observation of the December 27, 2018 referendum, it indicated areas which recorded high turn-outs, including Salaga South, (96%), Nkoranza North (97%), Jasikan (97%), and Krachi West (98.5%).
CODEO, which deployed 50 observers to the various districts and constituencies in selected regions within the referendum areas, added that a lot more constituencies had turn-out figures of more than 90%.
Albert Arhin, National Coordinator of CODEO, in the release, said CODEO observers documented wide disparities and unusually high numbers of manual verification across various polling stations.
He said at some polling stations where counting of ballots and results declaration were observed by CODEO, the number of voters who were manually verified were found to be more than the number of voters who went through biometric verification.
“Per electoral regulations by the Electoral Commission (EC), manual verification is typically a back-up plan for instances where there are challenges with biometric verification of voters and/or mal-function of the devices.
“Given that observers generally reported smooth performance of the BVDs, and the fact that all polling stations were equipped with back-up BVD machines, it is still not clear to CODEO why [an] unusually high numbers of voters were manually verified instead of biometric verification,” he added.
Similarly, CODE has taken cognisance of a number of videos circulating on social media platforms showing possible infractions of the electoral rules of the country.
He said: “Although CODEO is unable to verify the location of the alleged infractions or the authenticity of the videos, CODEO strongly urges the EC and the Police Service to take an interest in these videos and conduct their own investigations to protect the integrity of the process.”
As a result, the National Coordinator further called on the EC and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure that any person, including electoral officials, found to have violated the electoral laws face the full rigors of the law.
Mr Arhin noted that until individuals are held criminally accountable for their actions, it will be difficult to deter the rampant violations of electoral laws which risk undermining Ghana’s hard-won democratic stability.
He said CODEO wants concerns raised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) on restrictions placed by the security forces during the referendum exercise addressed to promote more transparent, peaceful and credible elections in the future.