The Deputy Executive Director at the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has backed the Electoral Commission’s plans to review the voting duration downwards ahead of the 2020 election.
Dr. Franklin Oduro on Eyewitness News said the idea is worth considering, given previous conversations about how the time for closing polls affects counting among other issues.
“I think it is a good idea for consideration. This is not the first time an idea like this has been suggested. If you recall in May, when we organized a round table conference, the former Chairman of the NPP, Peter Mac Manu suggested that we should consider closing election at 4pm so this idea from the Chairperson of the EC is not new,” said Mr. Oduro.
Mr. Oduro indicated that Nigeria’s decision to close polls at 2 p.m, gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the opportunity to count results in broad daylight.
“If you go to our big brothers in Nigeria, they close polling at 2 pm but they have a different system where there is what is called accreditation in the morning so everyone that is eligible to vote will come and be accredited to vote and by 2 o’clock no one comes to vote again. That is one lesson and it gives ample time in the afternoon to draw sunlight to do the counting and results.”
How will a review occur?
Mr. Oduro said a review of the duration of polls can be changed through a constitutional instrument that the Commission can propose and subsequently send to Parliament for consideration.
“I think it is the power of administrative law that can be changed through a constitutional instrument thing because it is something that the Electoral Commission as our constitution mandates it to design and come up with appropriate administrative methods and procedures,” Mr. Oduro added.
Currently, polls start at 7 am and end at 5 pm.
The casting of ballots may continue hours after the close of polls depending on the number of persons who were already waiting in the queue.
The EC chair said the commission had observed that a lot of voters wait till the last hour to join the voting queues.
The late resolution of voting and the casting of ballots, according to Jean Mensa, poses “grave danger to the security of ballots and the safety of electoral officers” and had been a major concern for the commission.
“As a Commission, we are not only keen to ensure a peaceful and conducive voting environment but we are keen to guarantee the security of the ballot and make every vote count. In this regard, one of the issues that has occupied our mind is the duration of voting.”
“Ultimately, we believe that this will lead to the early declaration of results and help to reduce the tensions and suspicions that manifest during the waiting period.”