In the run-up to Election 2020, the Electoral Commission (EC) was confronted with a number of challenges, including the compilation of a new voters register, the procurement of electoral materials and the COVID-19 pandemic.
To put the issues in perspective, the EC’s task was really daunting, especially looking at the urgency and the limited time frame within which it had to execute its mandate.
The EC had barely six months to compile a new register, open nominations for candidates and conduct the elections.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic posed the greatest threat to the conduct of the elections, as the pandemic was at its peak of infection globally.
As determined as it was, the EC successfully performed its tasks to the admiration of all.
What was unique in all of these was the fact that the EC was able to reduce the cost of the elections and in the process save the country a whopping $90 million. Also, the time it took a voter to vote was reduced from 10 to 12 minutes per voter to three to five minutes. Additionally, all the logistical requirements were met, without any external funding from donors.
For these achievements, the Daily Graphic believes the EC is worth commending for a good job done. The commission also needs the support of all stakeholders.
We believe the EC cannot be complacent and rest on its laurels; rather, it should raise the bar some notches higher. Although election 2024 is three years away, we believe that preparations for it must start now. As it is said, the early bird catches the worm, and that is why the EC must learn lessons from election 2020 to do even better in the 2024 elections.
For instance, if, in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its attendant inflation, price hikes and the additional cost it incurred due to the COVID-19 protocol, the EC was able to reduce the cost of the election from $13 per person in 2016 to $7.7 in 2020, then it should be able to reduce the cost more if the planning process starts now.
We cannot run away from the fact that elections are one of the most significant building blocks of a democracy, as they help preserve the sanctity of a democracy. As Mrs Jean Mensa said: “Through elections, a people exercise their sovereign will to choose their own leaders, and through electoral laws and processes, a nation unites under the common purpose of protecting that sovereign will.”
In preparing early for the 2024 elections, the Daily Graphic encourages the EC to continue with its “Let the Citizen Know” series to engage the populace and its stakeholders for them to appreciate what lies ahead or what the EC is doing.
This is necessary because the processes that often precede elections are characterised by unnecessary tension and divisiveness that threaten the very essence of elections, which is to promote social cohesion.
Ghana remains the shining star when it comes to democratic elections on the continent and we cannot lower the bar. We continue to inspire other countries through our best practices. Indeed, the December 2020 elections proved that Ghana remains a shining light.
Again, as members of the ECOWAS Parliament gather in Winneba to deliberate on democratic elections in the sub-region, we urge the participants to open up to the success stories and challenges in election management encountered in their respective countries, so that they learn from one another; ultimately, the sub-region will be the winner.
The Daily Graphic once again commends the EC for holding high the flag of Ghana in the conduct of peaceful, transparent and fair elections.
It should work extra hard, through its open processes and engagements with all stakeholders, by informing and educating them on any new processes it intends to introduce for the conduct of better elections in 2024.