ONE OF THE REFORMS the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) backed Ghana Political Parties Programme has embraced regarding changes in the electoral system could see a shift from the strong room concept on election day to a National Elections Centre.
This was one of the issues, which came up strongly when representatives of political party under the auspices of the IEA undertook a follow-up workshop on electoral reforms during a two-day programme at Capital View Hotel in Koforidua over the weekend.
An earlier programme in Akosombo prepared the grounds for the Koforidua activity, which discussed a wide ranging of matters pertaining to elections in the country.
The follow-up workshop themed, “Towards Transparent And Acceptable Elections In Ghana: A Review of Ghana’s Electoral System,” was climaxed by the issuance of a communiqué on proposals which would change the face of elections in the country.
The representatives tabled ideas on how to replace the strong room concept, which for many of them, was too restricted in the number of persons who could be allowed in the room on the day of releasing results.
The Collation Centre idea would allow media, civil society representatives and others to converge on a particular location for the purpose of an overall collation of election results as opposed to political party sending a limited number of persons to the strong room.
Results collation activities at a designated place would be provided with tight security.
The party representatives resolved that the Electoral Commission (EC) must work with defined programmes and publish timelines to ensure certainty in the implementation of the programmes so decided upon.
They called for transparency in the recruitment process of temporary electoral officials with minimum educational qualifications appropriate to each level of responsibility.
There should be a common training programme for such officials to ensure cooperation on voting day, they also resolved.
The training, they agreed, must be conducted by civil society organizations with inclination to election matters in consultation with the EC over a two-year period.
The EC would be tasked to conduct sustained and continuous voter registration subject to periodic auditing of the register to maintain their integrity, the parties agreed upon.
After an interesting give-and-take session on the “no voter no vote” mantra, they all agreed that finger print auditing, the cornerstone of the system, should be maintained.
Participants discussed the merits and otherwise of the Electronic Voting system and agreed that the features notwithstanding, the status quo be maintained and improved upon.
Election petition, they noted, must be disposed off expeditiously to improve public trust in the judiciary and enhance good governance.
On the date for the presidential election, they agreed that it be brought back to November so that should there be a run-off or contentious issues, these could be contained before December 7.
When one of the representatives asked why the EC was not represented, he was told that the Commission, given its role, could not have been part of the deliberations and that the resolutions would after all be deposited on their laps for consideration and implementation anyway.
It was one of those rare moments when political party representatives conferred to discuss crucial national issues harmoniously and without rancor.
A previous conference at Akosombo was devoid of the harmonious engagement when representatives yelled at each other over contentious political issues.
Appending their marks to the communiqué were Johnson Asiedu Nketia, Peter Mac Manu, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, Abu Forgor, Kofi Asamoah Siaw, David Essie Bunya, Jacob Osei Yeboah, Samuel Akuamoah, Jean Mensa and Dr. Henry Lartey for the parties and the IEA.