The Electoral Commission (EC) has responded to the myriad of allegations made against it by former President John Dramani Mahama.
Mr. Mahama who led the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the last poll had among other things accused the Commission of ballot stuffing, fraud, militarization of the process, among others.
Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission in charge of Corporate Affairs, Dr. Eric Bossman Asare, at the commission’s ‘Let the Citizen Know’ encounter on Monday, October 25, 2021, dissociated the EC from the violence that erupted in the electoral process and other claims made by Mahama.
Below is the full speech
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the Press. The Electoral Commission is very grateful for the support you continually provide in the dissemination of its programs to the good people of our dear country. More especially, we applaud you for your display of professionalism during the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Indeed you helped the Commission to demystify all the processes in the elections from the registration of voters to the declaration of the results in all the 275 parliamentary elections and the presidential election.
This edition of Let the Citizen Know is aimed at providing an update on the 2020 elections and addressing a number of allegations that have been leveled against the Commission by the Former President who led the NDC in the 2020 presidential election. I will begin by providing a brief overview of the 2020 Elections.
Let me state that the 2020 elections have been hailed globally as transparent and successful for the orderly and efficient manner they were conducted in spite of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The elections began with the replacement of an entire biometric voter management solution-the software and the hardware comprising Biometric Verification Devices and Biometric Voter Registration kits. It took the Commission only six months to conduct the entire electoral process from the preparation of a new biometric register on the 30th of June to the declaration of results on the 9th of December, 2020. This was because of the COVID-19 pandemic and yet the entire process came off without a hitch.
In spite of the projections of the spread of COVID-19 and deaths there was no spread of the virus. This was due to the stringent safety practices put in place by the by the EC. In all our 38,622 polling stations across the country, there was sufficient supply of PPEs throughout the entire electoral cycle.
We were able to register more than 17million people in just 38 days despite projections of apathy and low turnout due to the pandemic.
We ensured that our registration centers were placed at the doorstep of all eligible Ghanaians making it possible for any person who so desired to do so.
The recent 2021 Population and Housing Census have confirmed the effectiveness of our registration process. Out of a population of 30.8 million, 17 million plus were registered. This represents 55% of the population and puts Ghana ahead of all the ECOWAS countries except Cape Verde which has a population of less than 1 million. The average registered voters in ECOWAS countries is 40%. So Ghana has done well. Note that the registration took place in the midst of COVID-19.
To demystify the operations of the Commission and in the spirit of transparency and accountability, we organized weekly engagements with the citizens under the platform Let the Citizen Know. For the first time in our history Commissioners themselves provided regular updates directly to the citizens. As a result, the secrecy and suspicion that characterized our work was reduced.
This helped build confidence in our processes and reduced the tension that surrounded our work and elections. For example, during the registration, the Commission provided regular figures on demographics to Ghanaians such as male/female ratio, youth, PWDs etc-So transparent was our process that anyone could on a weekly basis calculate the number of registered voters across board. This was not the case previously.
Again, in spite of the fact that this was an entirely new register, there were no incidents of missing names on elections day unlike previous elections when people went to the polling stations but could not find their names. The presidential candidates of the two major parties also attested to the effectiveness of the registration exercise.
For the first time in our history we were able to reduce the cost of elections per voter from $13.34 in 2016 to $ 7.70 in 2020 and saved over GHS 500 million or $90 million at a time when the cost of elections the world over was rising. The savings were made in spite of the purchase of huge numbers of COVID-19 items which were in no short supply in all the 38,622 polling stations and in spite of the fact that unlike in 2016 we paid full taxes on all our items. It is important to note that we also created an additional 10,000 polling stations.
This was achieved through prudent procurement processes which favored open, competitive tender rather than single and restrictive sourcing.
Again, for the first time, the elections were fully funded by the government of Ghana with no donor support.
Yet another first, we did not experience the long queues at our 38,622 polling stations as in previous elections. By 1pm most centers were near empty as voters had already voted well before the 5pm deadline.
Again, for the first time in our history, there were no shortages of materials anywhere in all the 38,622 polling stations. Even in advanced cities such as Berlin, in Germany, in a recent election, materials run out leading to delays.
Again we reduced the voting time from 10-12 minutes to 3-5 minutes.
Furthermore, we declared the results in a record 48 hours.
We created another layer of transparency and scrutiny by creating the Regional Collation Center. This enabled all the Party Agents to verify constituency presidential results for the second time before signing and forwarding them to the National Collation Center. We are reliably informed that the Agents at the RCC were professionals. NDC, for example, had seasoned lawyers at the RCC throughout the country.
It is important to note that that the introduction of the facial verification in addition to the verification of the fingerprints significantly reduced the percentage of manual verification. Previously this was a source of concern to the Commission. Of the over 13.4 million persons who voted, more than 99.9% were verified through either fingerprint or facial recognition biometric verification. An indication the Commission took the right decision to introduce the facial recognition feature to our verification process. Nationally only 11,050 people were manually verified. We are determined to ensure this statistically insignificant figure is further reduced in future elections.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this in a nutshell provides the significant developments of the 2020 elections.
Distinguished citizens, in the last few weeks Former President Mahama has made a number of allegations against the EC and the 2020 elections. As Officials charged with the responsibility of conducting elections in Ghana, we owe it a duty to provide Ghanaians with the facts and the truth about the elections and the allegations raised. We are of the view that our silence on these false allegations could have dire consequences as it could undermine citizens’ confidence our dear country.
The Former President has said the EC thumb printed 1million ballots in favor of the president. This is untrue. This is a grave matter that undermines the credibility of our electoral process and should not be ignored. We call on him to provide evidence to support his claim. This is not a matter to be ignored and we call on the Ghana Police Service to investigate this.
The Transparency of our process makes it totally impossible for this to happen. At the polling stations, prior to the start of the elections, the empty ballot boxes are opened and displayed in the presence of everyone, and thereafter they are sealed. There are serial numbers on the ballot papers for each region and constituency. This is made known to the Agents before the elections. Our ballot papers also have security features; so any trace of new material will be clearly visible.
Again, at the end of the poll, the ballots cast are crosschecked against the voters who were verified and issued the ballot papers. This ensures that over-voting is detected immediately. Nationwide, we had no issue with over-voting at all our 38,622 polling stations except in Savelugu in the parliamentary election where there was one and I repeat one over-voting. The transparency of our processes from the beginning to the end makes this impossible. Ballot Stuffing cannot be done-it is impossible. We call on the Former President in the interest of our democracy to provide evidence of the stuffing of the ballot boxes by the EC.
The Police should investigate this as a matter of urgency due to its potential to derail and undermine our democracy, and lead to a lack of confidence in our systems and processes.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the former President has alleged that the Military influenced the declaration and announcement of the elections results. This is also false. It never happened. Nowhere did the Military influence the declaration and announcement of results. It is not true. The 2020 processes were widely participatory. The media, local and international observers all participated in the elections.
The results declared and announced at all the polling stations and collation centers were a true reflection of the will of the people.
The Media and Observers also picked their data right from the ground directly from the 38,622 polling stations and the collation centers and the results were no different from what the EC declared. To buttress the fact that the results were a reflection of the will of the people, it is important to indicate that all the major networks-Peace FM, UTV, Adom FM/TV, Joy News/FM, Kessben, Sky, GBC, Atinka Media collated their own results and it was the same as what the EC declared. These networks called the election for the President before the EC declared. The parallel voter tabulation employed by CODEO also confirmed the results declared by the EC. We call on the good people of Ghana to disregard this allegation of the military influencing the declaration and announcement of results as it is false and untrue.
In the interest of our democracy we call on the Former President to provide evidence of where the influence by the Military occurred.
We have also noted that the Former President has called the 2020 elections the worst elections. We refute his scoring. The good people of Ghana who experienced our processes are the best judges. Their testimonies on social media demonstrated that Ghanaians were highly satisfied. Additionally, the 2020 elections have been hailed locally and globally as highly transparent, fair, credible, and inclusive.
World over, scientific methods are used to measure the success or otherwise of elections. International and Local Observers who used scientific, internationally-acceptable methods to measure the quality of elections have confirmed that the elections were transparent, credible and highly successful. It is not a wonder that the internationally recognized EU International Observer Mission which has a track record of elections observation scored the 2020 elections 95%.
Once again, we refute the ranking giving by the former president and state that, on the basis of scientific evidence the 2020 elections would go down as the best in the history of this country. It will be important to note the scientific tools used by the Former President to reach his conclusion.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, once more, the former president has accused the EC of being responsible for the violence that took place at Techiman. We state for the records that the violence was not caused as a result of the EC or its staff. More importantly, the EC is not responsible for security as the former President sought to portray. Nowhere in our laws or in the Constitution is security one of the functions of the EC. To lay the security lapses at the doorstep of the EC is unfortunate.
While we sympathize with the family members of the deceased, we reject any attempt to associate the violence with us. Again we call on the former president in the interest of our democracy to provide evidence that the EC orchestrated the violence.
In Techiman, for example, one of the radio stations asked the townsfolk to go to the Collation Center to protect the ballot for the NDC parliamentary candidate. This is what led to the chaos that ensued at the Collation Centre. Our Regional and District Officials indicated that but for the presence of the Security personnel they would probably not be here today. In Savelugu the violence occurred at the police station. None of them had anything to do with the conduct of our officials.
Therefore, to blame the EC for the violence portrays a deliberate attempt to malign and impugn on the integrity of the Commission. Whiles we collaborated with the security agencies under the platform of the Elections Security Taskforce, our responsibility was to conduct the elections and we did that creditably.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the Former President has also said the elections were fraudulent. This is not true. The elections were fair, transparent, and credible which have been attested to by local and international observers and the General Secretary of the NDC.
After the declaration of the results, the NDC initially challenged the elections by stating that the elections were rigged and that they had won. But they went to the Supreme Court alleging no one had won. However, throughout the proceedings at the court, they were not able to provide any pink sheet to support their claim of fraudulent elections. In the full glare of Ghanaians when the General Secretary of the NDC was asked about the figures to support the Petitioner’s claim that no one won the election, he said they did not come to challenge the validity of the results.
When the General Secretary was also asked to tabulate the results during cross-examination he confirmed that the President actually won the presidential election with more than 50% plus 1 of the votes.
The two main political parties had at least two agents at all the polling stations representing the interests of their presidential and parliamentary candidates. The Commission did not receive any reports from the Party Agents complaining of fraud by the EC.
As the saying goes, he who alleges must provide the proof. The NDC had this fine opportunity to provide evidence to support their claim of rigged elections. They failed to do so. They did not provide a single pink sheet as earlier stated.
Finally, we have on several occasions heard the former President state that the Chairperson has been running away from accountability. This is false.
The EC is an institution. As such for the Former President to equate the entire institution to the Chairperson is an attempt to malign her and cause disaffection for her.
As an institution we account to the good people of Ghana through the Special Budget Committee of Parliament and we have done so. And we report regularly. We do not account to individuals. We do not account to presidential candidates. The Constitution does not permit that.
For the information of the public, before and after the elections the EC Officials held meetings with the Special Budget Committee for our stewardship. We continue to do this.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court is not the platform for the EC to account to the people of Ghana. As far as elections are concerned the Supreme Court is a court for settling presidential election dispute as stated in Article 63 (3) of the 1992 Constitution. That is why the Former President took us to court.
After the evidence adduced by the three witnesses of the Petitioner, it became evident the Petitioner had no credible evidence to support his claim. Indeed the General Secretary of the NDC said they did not come to court to challenge the validity of the election.
In fact there was no single evidence to support their claim that no one won the presidential election.
Our Lawyers were of the view that the witnesses had not provided credible evidence during cross-examination on which the Chairperson could be cross-examined. In their view there was no need to respond, and they asked the Court to decide the matter based on the evidence adduced by the Petitioner’s Witnesses.
Ghanaians watched the proceedings and saw that the Petitioner and his witnesses did not tender any evidence. as the General Secretary in an answer to a Judge as to the figures they brought to court to make their case said they did not come to court with any figures neither did they come to challenge the validity of the results.
In any case where a person goes to court and accuses another person of wrongdoing and the person accused chooses not to respond shouldn’t the Accuser go home a happy person?
In conclusion on this subject, we wish to state that the EC is mindful of its obligations to account for its stewardship to the good people of Ghana through Parliament. We will continue to do so.
We will continue to provide you with the facts and truth on all our activities and we entreat you all to work to defend our democracy. Lastly, we will not watch persons tear down our institution for no legitimate or just cause.
The Commission is concerned about the attempt to undermine and malign the state institution that has been provided with the Constitutional mandate to conduct elections. The EC is an important vehicle in our democratic process. It is a key institution of democracy. The Commission does not determine and cannot determine who win elections in Ghana; the people of Ghana do.
The Electoral Commission has never wavered in its belief that a great work was done in 2020. This has been corroborated by Ghanaians across all walks of life.
We thank you for your time this afternoon.