The Centre for Performance Tracking and Outcome Mapping (CePTOM), a project management think tank, has proposed the development of a legal standardised format to guide the recruitment of temporary election officials deployed by the Electoral Commission (EC) during national elections.
The legal format, the group proposed, must compel election officials to strictly comply with the electoral laws in the discharge of their duties and spell out specific punishments to be meted out to offenders.
In its observation of the 2020 general election, the group found that the current recruitment process adopted by the EC "does not follow any specific format," a situation it said did not guarantee the neutrality and quality of the officers recruited.
Presenting the findings of its preliminary report on the conduct of the 2020 general election at a press conference yesterday, the Director of Programmes at CePTOM, Mr Joe Ato Bonful, said the reported cases of infractions in some polling stations during the elections were largely perpetrated by some temporary officers recruited by the EC.
"The recruitment, training of temporary and permanent EC officials at polling stations is crucial to the outcome of every election. CePTOM's findings are that nearly all the EC officials at the polling stations were temporary staff.
"The independence and integrity of these staff are not well known and the few cases of infractions, such as tearing of candidates pictures from ballot papers were perpetrated by individuals. They were not systematic ploys by any party,” he noted.
Mr Bonful said CePTOM deployed a total of 1,505 officers and agents to 1,200 polling stations identified as flashpoints across 100 constituencies in 15 regions.
He said on the election day, all the 1,505 agents collected and transmitted data using a web-based application developed by CePTOM for real-time reporting.
The report found that the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections was “conducted in a transparent, credible, and fair manner”
It indicated that out of the 1,200 polling stations observed, 99 per cent of all Presiding Officers and 97 per cent of all election materials were present at the time polls were scheduled to open. It added that all Presiding Officers and election materials arrived within an hour and half of scheduled opening times.
“There were no incidents of malfunction of the biometric verification devices in the polling stations visited by CePTOM observers,” the report stated.
Mr Bonful also urged the EC to be ‘realistic’ in setting timelines for the declaration of results to avoid tensions and suspicions.