Six flag bearer-aspirants of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), have petitioned the party’s National Election Committee about what they perceive as anomalies with the electoral roll that will be used for the forthcoming flag bearer primary.
The six, Mr Alban Bagbin, Mr Nurudeen Iddrisu, Mr Sylvester Mensah, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Mr Goosie Tanoh and Prof Joshua Alabi, copied the petition to the Chairman of NDC’s National Council of Elders, former president Jerry John Rawlings; the party’s General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia, and Chairman Samuel Ofosu Ampofo.
They want the Election Committee of the NDC to furnish each one of them with an electoral roll bearing the photographs of all the delegates by their names.
In the petition, they expressed reservations about the electoral roll consisting “simply of a list of names without photographs, voter ID card numbers or even party membership card numbers.”
“There is also considerable inconsistency in the formatting. Our concern obviously is that this approach creates opportunities for voter impersonation and unnecessary confusion on Polling Day,” they six argued.
In an interview with Class News, Mr Spio-Garbrah said the six of them are not trying to frustrate the polls as being claimed by some people in the party but merely want the right things to be done for a free and fair electoral process.
According to him, they have heard rumours that a particular aspirant has been furnished with the numbers of all the delegates and that candidate, whose name he withheld, has blasted messages to all the delegates urging them to vote for him.
Also, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Bagbin told Class91.3FM’s Valentina Ofori-Afriyie on the 505 news analysis programme on Monday, 28 January 2019 that it was important they were all given a fair playing field in the election process.
He raised concerns about why a particular private printing house has been asked by the party to do the printing of the ballot papers, when, in his estimation, the state-owned Assembly Press could easily have been contracted to do that job so as to do away with suspicions.
Fellow petitioner Nurudeen Iddrisu concurred with Mr Bagbin on the same programme, adding that having access to the phone numbers and photographs of the delegates will help him in campaigning in the five remaining regions he is yet to visit.
In response, however, a Deputy General Secretary of the party, Peter Otokunor told Valentina on the same programme that the party expected the six aspirants to have used the consultation mechanisms through which they had been discussing such matters, to get their grievances addressed rather than resorting to the media.
On the specific case of the printing of the ballot papers, Mr Otokunor said a staunch member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr David Asante, who is a member of the pressure group Let My Vote Count Alliance, is currently the one heading the Assembly Press and, so, found the suggestion that the state-owned printing house be made to print the ballot papers, problematic.
He said the Mr Asante-led Assembly Press could be up to no good.
Former President John Mahama, who is also contesting the slot, has not publicly raised any concerns about the election process so far.
Read the full petition below:
23 January 2019
National Election Guidelines
We refer to our discussions last Sunday at Party HQ. We made considerable progress towards “free and fair” Guidelines for the Presidential primaries – to the point that we agreed to proceed with vetting and balloting while we await the text of the new Guidelines.
We had hoped by now to receive an update regarding your proposed discussions with the Council of Elders and the current state of the process.
While we wait, we wish to revisit two issues that we discussed on Sunday – the character of the electoral roll and the selection of a company to print ballot papers.
Primaries Electoral College Voters’ Roll
We are deeply concerned that the Voters’ register provided to Aspirants yesterday consists simply of a list of names without photographs, Voter ID card numbers or even Party membership card numbers. There is also considerable inconsistency in the formatting. Our concern obviously is that this approach creates opportunities for voter impersonation and unnecessary confusion on Polling Day.
The use of a voters’ roll with pictures has been standard electoral practice in Ghana since 2000 – enabling polling officers to verify prospective voters’ identities at the Polling station and substantially reduce the risk of impersonation. We know that the Party would not agree to participate in a national election using a voters’ roll that does not provide pictures or ID numbers. It is our view that the provision of an EC standard Roll falls squarely within the requirements for “free and fair” as provided for in the Judicial Settlement agreed last Thursday in Ali v NDC.
We know further that the Party’s re-registration exercise (designed precisely to enable the Party to identify its members accurately for purposes such as elections) captured members’ Voter ID card numbers. We know that the raw data exists at constituency level (where it was used for CEC elections). It should not be too difficult to update the Voters’ Roll and provide Voter ID card numbers. We have checked informally with the EC and can confirm that if the Party provides this information the EC can print off a Primaries Electoral College Roll that includes pictures and Voter ID numbers within a matter of days.
We acknowledge that in a few cases (principally TEIN members) registrants had not reached voting age at the time of the last national voters’ registration exercise and thus did not have Voter ID cards to use in the Party re-registration exercise last year. We appreciate that special arrangements will need to be made to avoid disenfranchising these members and we are willing to be flexible to achieve this.
We are also deeply concerned about the apparent decision to award the contract for the printing of the ballots to the same company that printed ballots for the November NEC elections. As you are no doubt aware several contestants and observers of those elections have described significant irregularities with the ballot papers (amongst other irregularities). These include the incorrect rendering of aspirants’ names, mismatching of pictures and names and presence of duplicate ballot papers (i.e. with the same supposedly “unique” serial number). All of these irregularities have been cited in a discourse that calls the legitimacy of the outcome of some of the NEC elections in question.
Again, in the context of the history cited above, we believe that this choice would violate the spirit and indeed the letter of the “free and fair” commitment set out in the Settlement Agreement.
In our meeting last Sunday, we noted that the EC has accredited a number of printing houses for this kind of work including Assembly Press which is a state-owned facility. We would prefer to work with one of these printing houses. This is also in line with the commitment made that after the balloting for positions on the Ballot Sheet the process would be managed by the EC.
We would also like a briefing on polling day logistics and especially transportation and feeding with your committee at your earliest and hopefully within the next week.
Our teams are immediately available to meet with FEC or the Electoral Committee to discuss these matters and achieve acceptable solutions that prevent further disruption to the proposed election schedule.
Alban SK Bagbin
Hon. Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah
HE Flt Jerry John Rawlings
Chairman, National Council of Elders
Hon. Samuel Ofusu-Ampofo
Chairman and Leader