Securing the ballot

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

As observed by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), “After five successive general elections and a number of bye-elections, it has become abundantly clear that the commitment of the leadership of Ghanaian political parties or at least elements within them to the idea that freely and fairly conducted elections are inherently good and desirable is extremely weak.”

According to CDD-Ghana, the political parties or the elements within them “… tend to see fairness in elections in primarily opportunistic terms, a convenience where it would not interfere with victory, but something to be jettisoned in favour of a foul alternative if it cannot guarantee access to power. In this regard, our parties and party leadership readily reward and/or shield foot soldiers who disrupt public elections, steal ballot boxes, maim and kill, all in the name of working for the ‘good’ of the party and by so doing encourage, make and accord legitimacy to the use of violence as an election strategy”.

The Daily Graphic, however, thinks that if we want our democracy to be touted as one of the best, not only in Africa but the rest of world, we must all join hands to do away with such negative tendencies which tend to undermine the credibility of our democracy.

It is in this vein that we applaud the Ghana Police Service for its initiative to establish Ballot Boxes Security Task Forces to protect ballot boxes on their way to and from polling stations on December 7.

It is our conviction that the political parties must co-operate and support the security agencies to ensure that the elections are held in an atmosphere of peace devoid of any acts of intimidation, harassment or ballot box snatching. They cannot and should not be allowed to snatch the will of the people.

While commending the police for expanding its duties to protect ballot boxes, the Daily Graphic believes that the setting up of ballot boxes task forces is the first step towards securing the ballot, so that no group of persons steal the vote of the people.

We trust that the measures put in place by the National Election Security Task Force, under the command of the Ghana Police Service, will be adequate to address the challenges of voter intimidation, harassment, assault and other lawless acts. We also trust the security agencies to go beyond issuing warnings to arrest and prosecute all those behind electoral violence.

The Daily Graphic believes that if the police are able to walk their talk, faceless politicians who encourage those elements to indulge in those lawless acts will think twice.

But it is also important for the security personnel to be assigned for electoral duties to act with tact, discipline and decorum. They should not be seen to be intimidating the electorate but facilitating their participation.

We have had occasions in the past when overly enthusiastic security personnel have turned out to be the bad lots on occasions such as this.

Ballot snatchers must be given no room to operate and those arrested must be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to the rest of us who may contemplate similar actions in future.