2024 elections: Reinstate indelible ink in electoral process - Parliament’s leadership urges EC
The leadership of Parliament has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to reinstate the application of the indelible ink as part of the voting process to enhance the integrity of this year’s general election.
It said the fact that the biometric verification devices were part of the electoral process was not good enough reason for the EC to discard the indelible ink.
The leadership was also of the view that since the database of the EC at its national headquarters and those in the regions were not sychronised, discarding the indelible ink could enable abuse of the voting system through multiple voting.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, who made the call, said when biometric devices failed, fast-drying indelible ink on a voter’s finger provided the surest way to identify a person who had already voted.
They made the call in their opening welcome addresses in Parliament last Monday at the commencement of the first meeting of the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament.
In his remarks, Dr Forson said indelible ink added another layer to the integrity of elections by ensuring that voters were “visibly, transparently and physically verified in addition to the biometric verification system”.
He told the House that the announcement by the EC that it intended to take the indelible ink out of the electoral process must be of great concern to members of the House.
He said the EC’s announcement constituted an attack on the integrity of Ghana’s electoral process and posed a great danger to its democracy.
“Indelible ink has not only become a feature of our elections in the Fourth Republic, but it is also a time-tested method of easily identifying persons who had already cast their ballot and, therefore, helps to easily prevent multiple voting.
“It also helps in building confidence in the conduct of elections and adds to the credibility and integrity of our elections,” he said.
Dr Forson added that “we will not countenance the elimination of indelible ink from the electoral process”.
The MP said the EC took “unwholesome decisions” that were disruptive and courted public disaffection in spite of being roundly condemned by a section of the public.
He cited, for instance, how the EC, during the limited voter registration exercise, restricted first-time voters to registration at only the offices of the EC in the districts and not at the polling stations as had been the practice.
The EC, he said, was severely condemned for that decision since it had the potential to disenfranchise or deprive the vast majority of first-time voters the opportunity to have their names captured in the register.
On the intention of the EC to change the voting date for the general election from December to November, Dr Forson said the Minority Caucus would not support any change at this time.
“This is because there are more pertinent and pressing issues that require the immediate attention of the EC than a change of date for the general election,” he said.
Prevent system abuse
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said as far as some MPs knew, the database of the EC did not “talk to one another”.
“The database of the EC for the regions talk to themselves, so you cannot vote in, let’s say, Suame and run to Offinso North to vote because the database is sychronised, but they do not go beyond the regions.
“So, it is possible for one person to vote in Accra and dash to Bole to cast his or her vote.
So, Mr Speaker, to the extent that the databases in the various regions are not talking to themselves, it is important that we further guarantee preventing any abuse of the system by resorting to the use of indelible ink,” he said.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said in the case of the New Patriotic Party primaries, the indelible ink was applied.
He, however, said the ink that was applied was not fast drying enough as it could easily be rubbed.
“So, we are appealing to the Electoral Commission to reintroduce the ink and to ensure that the ink that they apply is very fast and cannot be easily erased,” he said.
On the change in voting day, the Majority Leader did not kick against the EC’s decision.
He said it was not for nothing that the Constitution provided that the holding of presidential elections could happen not earlier than three months before the expiry of the date of the President’s term.
“This means that the holding of presidential election could take place from October 7 up to December 7, which is the last day for the President, but for Parliament, the earliest date is December 7 because the Constitution provides that it cannot be held earlier than one month before the expiry of Parliament,” he said.
He, however, added that until Parliament amended the Constitution, the EC could not go ahead to amend the voting date for parliamentary elections.