Nungua: Two arrested for photographing votes

BY: Kweku Zurek
Nungua: Two arrested for photographing votes

Two persons have been arrested after they were caught taking photographs of their ballot paper after participating in the special voting exercise Tuesday at the Kpeshie District Police headquarters in Nungua in Greater Accra.

According to an eyewitness who spoke to Graphic Online, the duo caught the attention of some eagle-eyed polling agents after they "kept long" in the voting booth.

The agents then alerted the Police who after browsing through their smartphones arrested them for the "disclosure of votes".

The duo are currently assisting the Kpeshie Division of the Ghana Police Service with investigations into the matter.

EC wants custodial services

Meanwhile, the Director of Elections at the EC, Dr Serebour Quaicoe is advocating for custodial sentences for persons who photograph their votes as a deterrent before December 7.

Dr Quaicoe said three persons have been arrested for the offence.

"Why would you take snapshots of your vote? What is the need for it and by so doing you are breaching the laws of the country and you must be sanctioned severely and with the swiftness that it demands to serve as a warning to others," Dr Quaicoe said in an interview with Accra-based Joy FM.

What the law says

Article 49 (1) of the 1992 Constitution states that "At any public election of referendum, voting shall be by secret ballot".

The Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 127 on the elections also preaches secret ballot.

The law prescribes a punishment of up to two years in prison or a fine of up to GH¢6000 if found guilty by a court, according to the EC's Director of Elections, Dr Serebour Quaicoe.

However, legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini contends that the country's electoral laws do not criminalise making one's vote public.

"The law must make sense and the law must be enforceable, how on earth can you enforce making my vote secret if I wanted to tell about my vote in an exit poll, would you say I have committed an offence," Mr Anyenini said in a radio interview on Accra based Joy FM on Wednesday [December 2, 2020].

"The law's requirement in the current election law is that because the constitution requires that the vote must be secret, the state or the Electoral Commission (EC) and its officers must endeavour that your vote is secret... It names particular officers of the EC and says they should help to ensure that your vote is protected but if you have the right and you don't want to assert that right, what crime is there? My point actually is that, if you read the offences you do not find an offence against the person who decides to waive that right, it is rather the EC officers if they do not help protect your right that maybe in offence".