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Citizens confident in EC - CDD survey reveals

BY: Emmanuel Bonney

Majority of persons surveyed have expressed confidence in the integrity and competence of the Electoral Commission (EC) and its ability to deliver free and fair elections on December 7.

They deemed the EC's level of preparedness, together with other election-related state and non-state agencies (particularly the military and police), as adequate.

Most importantly, they expressed broad confidence in the EC and allied bodies' ability to deliver credible Election 2020.

However, the survey pointed out that there was considerable apprehension about violence by party and candidate supporters.

This was the outcome of a pre-election survey conducted by the Centre for Democratic Development Ghana (CDD-Ghana).

Respondents

The survey, which had 2,400 respondents, was conducted between September 28 and October 16, 2020.

First conducted in 2016, the CDD-Ghana pre-election survey is aimed at picking early warning signals by tracking citizens' opinions on the overall level of the country’s preparedness for elections; public confidence in the competence, integrity and neutrality of election-relevant state and quasi-state bodies; and voter behaviour, expectations, priorities and potential turnout.

With funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), CDD-Ghana’s pre-election survey is also to isolate and identify voter concerns regarding election security, physical intimidation, violence, and perceived peacefulness of the political environment.

Activities

Most of those surveyed remained concerned about the activities of party vigilantes, as eight in 10 respondents in the survey desired for armed security personnel presence at the polling stations.

That notwithstanding, most eligible Ghanaians had registered to vote, and many were actually planning to vote, the finding suggested.

It said nearly all respondents reported that they were registered to vote, with nine out of 10 of those interviewed indicating an intention to vote.

That strong resolve to vote had downplayed the likelihood of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) depressing voter turnout on Election Day, the findings pointed out.

However, a substantial majority of respondents want to see independent domestic and international observers present for the polls.

Breakdown

Presenting the findings of the survey at a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Director of Research of the CDD-Ghana, Dr Edem Selormey, noted that most Ghanaians believed that the EC and other state elections-related bodies were well prepared for the election.

The survey, she said, rated the preparedness of the institutions as 91 per cent for the Ghana Armed Forces, 89 per cent for the media, 87 per cent for the police, 83 per cent for the EC and 66 per cent for the National Peace Council.

The preparedness of the National Commission for Civil Education (NCCE) was rated at 60 per cent, while that of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) was rated at 54 per cent.

“Solid majorities are positive in their evaluations of the EC’s competence and integrity of its leadership as well as the new voters’ roll,” she said.

She added that some 64 per cent of the respondents believed in the competence of EC's commissioners to deliver free and fair elections, 17 per cent of them said they had a little belief in the competence of the commissioners, with 15 per cent saying they did not believe in the electoral body.

Regarding the integrity of the EC to deliver free and fair election, 65 per cent of the respondents said they had confidence in the EC to do so, while 16 per cent said they had a little confidence, while 15 per cent said they did not believe in it at all.

On the integrity or quality of the new voters register, 68 per cent of the people said they had confidence in it with 15 per cent saying they had little confidence and 14 per cent having no confidence at all.

Trust rating

“The EC enjoys decent trust rating, but less than the Ghana Armed Forces, media and police,” Dr Selormey said and gave the breakdown of performances as army, 85 per cent; media, 78 per cent; police, 72 per cent; EC, 67 per cent; court, 66 per cent and the Peace Council, 65 per cent.

On the other hand, the Presidency enjoys 61 per cent of the trust of those surveyed, with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) enjoying 58 per cent and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) enjoying 47 per cent, with other opposition parties enjoying 28 per cent.

“Ghanaians overwhelmingly accept the EC’s authority to declare results; for the courts to make binding decisions; and for the police to enforce the law”.

Violence

Moreover, the survey indicated that a large majority were confident in the ability of the country’s official and informal institutions to resolve violence in the 2020 polls.

Ninety-six per cent of the respondents said the army was effective in resolving conflicts peacefully as 87 per cent rating went to the police on that score; 78 per cent to traditional authorities; 77 per cent to religious bodies; 76 per cent to the peace council and 72 per cent for civil society organisations, while non-governmental organisations had 72 per cent rating on their ability to resolve conflicts peacefully.

Vote buying

The survey indicated that significant proportions of Ghanaians were concerned about likely vote buying, political party violence, incorrect vote count and announcements of results, among other things, Dr Selormey stated.

She said a plurality of those surveyed indicated that while they would take the money, it would not influence their votes.

For instance, 44 per cent said they would take money and vote for the candidate of their choice, while 33 per cent said they would refuse the money and vote for the candidate of their choice.

In addition to political party and candidates engaging in vote buying, the finding said “Ghanaians see election year government projects as vote buying.”

Concerns

The respondents largely think the NPP and the NDC had stuck to issues ahead of the forthcoming elections.

The issues that will inform the direction of their votes include infrastructure, especially roads (51 per cent), unemployment (44 per cent), education, 28 per cent; health, 21 per cent; management of the economy, 20 per cent; poverty/destitution, 16 per cent; electricity and water, 11 per cent each; wages, salaries and income, seven per cent and corruption, six per cent.