As Ghanaians prepare to vote for their preferred candidates in the presidential and parliamentary elections on December 7, 2020, these are the dos and don’ts sanctioned by the Electoral Commission (EC) and police.
Can parties share food and other items to voters and party agents?
While there is no express rule on this, a disagreement that nearly marred the Special Voting on December 1 between supporters of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) at Bortianor-Ngleshie-Amanfro prompted GhanaWeb to put this question to a top police officer.
In that incident, NDC supporters confronted supporters of the NPP who had brought packs of food to distribute to their party agents. The NPP supporters said it was important to feed their agents. The NDC saw it as a nuisance and a potential attempt to influence election officials who may receive the food.
Because political parties are known to hand out food, drinks and other items to voters in a queue or their party agents during voter registration exercise and sometimes on election day, Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, Superintendent Sheila Abayie-Buckman, told GhanaWeb that did not constitute a clear security issue, but the way it is carried out could disrupt the election process.
According to her, the way the food distribution is done could prompt the police to decide to stop it from going on or allow it to go on. If it is done in a way that constitutes vote-buying it would be stopped and the perpetrators arrested.
She has advised political parties to allow their party agents to move away from the voting area or polling station to a nearby private location if they want to serve them food.
Motorbikes must be 100m away from polling stations
Police have said motorbikes are one of the main tools used by lawbreakers to perpetrate electoral violence.
They have, therefore, introduced a 100-metre rule at all polling centres across the country for motorbikes on December 7.
Can you take a photograph of your ballot?
During the Special Voting exercise on Tuesday, December 1, two persons were arrested for taking photographs of their ballot paper at the Kpeshie District Police headquarters in Nungua in Greater Accra.
While the duo is currently assisting the Kpeshie Division of the Ghana Police Service with investigations into the matter, 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.
“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 or referendum, voting shall be by secret ballot”.
However, legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini contends that the country’s electoral laws do not criminalise making one’s vote public.
Don’t do these because they constitute an offence
– Have your name the electoral roll of more than one polling station
– Voting twice
– Attempt to vote before the poll opens or after it closes
– Vote or attempt to vote when you are not entitled to do so
– Be in possession of another voter’s ID
– Buy or sell a vote
– Compel someone to vote in a particular way
– Impede or prevent a voter from exercising their franchise
– Forge or destroy a ballot paper
– Steal a ballot box
– Jump a queue
Do these on election day (voting process)
– Enter your designated polling station with your Voter ID card and join the queue if there is one.
– When it gets to your turn, an election official will check your ID in the polling station’s name reference list.
– Another electoral officer will verify your name and other particulars with a verification machine.
– If you are verified to vote, you will be handed a presidential ballot paper. The EC advises voters to check that there are marks on the ballot paper. Every ballot paper must be stamped with an EC validating stamp.
– You will then make your way to a voting booth where you will thumbprint the space provided for your preferred candidate.
– After thumbprinting, fold the ballot paper correctly and rightly put it inside the transparent box for presidential ballots.
– Next, proceed to the next election official for a parliamentary ballot paper
– Proceed to the parliamentary voting booth and thumbprint (correctly) your preferred candidate for Member of Parliament.
– Cast your ballot for in the transparent box for parliamentary ballots
– Leave the voting area and return at 5 pm to witness the count, if you so wish.