Dr Eric Bossman Asare, Deputy EC Chairman in charge of Corporate Services
Dr Eric Bossman Asare, Deputy EC Chairman in charge of Corporate Services

EC allows party agents to observe transfer of votes

The Electoral Commission (EC) has directed its officers at the district directorates to allow agents of political parties to observe the transfer of votes exercise, starting today (June 5).

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The decision, the EC said, was part of efforts to deepen transparency, accountability and to encourage peaceful electoral processes ahead of this year’s general election. The commission has, therefore, urged the leaders of the political parties to educate their agents on the commission's laws prior to assigning them duties as observers of the various electoral activities.

It said it would not hesitate to request the withdrawal of agents who disrupted the transfer process. The new directive comes against the EC’s earlier directive which ordered all regional directors to discontinue the observation of the transfer of votes.

Speaking at a news conference in Accra yesterday (June 4), the Deputy EC Chairman in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Eric Bossman Asare, emphasised that the directive to withdraw agents from the transfer exercise was as a result of threats to the nation's peace stemming from the actions of the agents of the political parties at the EC’s district offices.

“The Commission finds the blatant interference with this process by the agents of the NPP and the NDC unacceptable. However, following internal discussions and in consideration of the concerns of some stakeholders, the Commission has decided to revert to its decision at IPAC,” he said.

IPAC meeting

The Deputy EC Chairman in charge of Corporate Services recounted that during the last meeting of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee  (IPAC) preceding the transfer of votes exercise, the commission took the view that in the spirit of enhancing transparency, the agents of political parties should be allowed to observe the transfer exercise.

He said the commission was of the view that their observation would further deepen their trust and confidence in the electoral process, hence the decision to allow them even though the law was silent on this.

Unlike the voter registration exercise and the actual election day where the law expressly provided for political party agents to be present at registration centres and at all polling stations, Dr Bossman said no such provisions were made in the law for political parties to observe the transfer of votes.

After the exercise commenced on May 30, this year, he said the commission received reports of clashes between agents of the political parties, namely the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The clashes, he said, stemmed from the fact that agents of both political parties sought to unlawfully prevent voters from transferring their votes at some of the district offices.

“The general public must understand that the law does not grant any right or authority whatsoever to an observer of any of our electoral processes to interfere with the processes.

The law allows observers to take a record of any issue they may have and deal with it through available legal or administrative processes. This is the same system that governs the voter registration exercise. In that, observers cannot prevent any applicant from being registered as a voter.

 They can, however, challenge the registration of an applicant through the challenge process embedded in the voter registration exercise by applying to the district registration review committees set up in all districts to review the challenge cases from the voter registration exercise,” Dr Bossman explained.

Transfer of votes

He said the transfer of votes exercise was governed by Regulation 22 of the Public Elections Regulations 2020 (C.I 127) which did not provide political party agents or any other observers with a right to prevent voters who applied to transfer their votes under the law.

He said the political parties were well aware that one could object to a voter's eligibility on the grounds of residency during the voter's exhibition exercise and not during the transfer of votes exercise. 

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