By Agnes Ansah .
It appears the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Electoral Commission (EC) have to take their electoral education to Parliament, as a rejected ballot surfaced in a parliamentary voting exercise, which took place last week Friday.
The secret ballot exercise, which commenced around 3:30pm and ended at 7:00pm in the House, was intended to either accept or reject Mrs Evelyn Ama Kumi Richardson, a woman nominated by the President as Minister for the Bono Region.
It would be recalled that Mrs Richardson was nominated among 17 other persons to hold various ministerial positions, but her appointment was withheld due to issues relating to her academic qualifications and an audit query.
It is not clear which of the parties recorded the rejected ballot, but it has raised eyebrows among the Ghanaian populace, as they wonder why people who are beneficiaries of these voting exercises can’t get it right.
The public is, therefore, of the view that the NCCE and the EC might have to take the electoral educational activities to the House to educate some MPs who might not be familiar with the process, come 2020.
But, on the brighter side, Mrs Richardson was finally given the nod with that massive vote that she obtained, although it wasn’t an easy exercise.
Before the secret ballot voting commenced, the Speaker, Rev. Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye, had wanted the House to go by the usual ‘yeeyee’ and ‘noono’ process where those who are for a particular motion respond ‘yeeyee’, while those against respond ‘noono’, because the report presented by the Appointments Committee indicated that the process should be taken by a majority decision.
But the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, disagreed and invoked standing order 172 (4), which says, “Parliamentary approval of persons recommended by appointment shall be by secret ballot or by consensus,” and succeeded in getting the House to go by secret ballot.
However, the vote was not immediately taken, because the table office was not prepared for such an exercise, so it had to go and print the ballots, which ushered the House into an hour of suspension.
The secret voting then commenced right after the house resumed. The MPs had their names mentioned one after the other to cast their ballot.
The process was cumbersome but interesting as well. While journalists had to wait for hours for 275 names to be mentioned in alphabetical order, they also enjoyed the uproars, praises and heckles that accompanied some of the names mentioned from both the majority and minority sides.
Though the main reason for the heckles may not be known, it could be attributed to the ‘long leave’ taken by some of these MPs who appeared on Friday, not just to cast their ballots, but because the House was going on recess as well.
While all the members were not present on that august occasion, the attendance was not the usual 60 or even less the number that attend sittings during the week. Some members who were even not at the House at the time voting begun were seen rushing in to cast their ballots.
By 7:30pm voting had ended and Madam Kumi Richardson was approved as the Minister for the Bono Region. Both the Majority and Minority leaders made their final comments and brought the House to a one month break.