The electoral commission of Ghana (EC) has revealed to the inter-party advisory committee (IPAC) that it intends to push back the closing time for parliamentary and presidential election from 5 pm to 3pm come 2024. The EC argue that late close of polls and counting of votes in the dark has contributed to electoral malpractices on election day. It hopes to curtail such election day malpractices by ensuring that vote counting takes place in broad day light.
The IPAC is a forum for dialogue between a coalition of all registered political parties in Ghana and the EC. As a collaborative forum, IPAC provides opportunity for political parties to propose reforms and suggest improvements to the electoral process to ensure free, fair, transparent and credible elections. Though the IPAC is not a constitutional body, it has become the main forum through which the EC consults and deliberates with all political parties.
But not all political parties approve the new EC proposals. The main opposition party, NDC, has kicked against the idea, arguing that a free, fair, transparent and credible election can only come from a neutral EC, a professional security service and vigilant citizens. They also argue that closing the polls at 3 pm will disenfranchise many Ghanaians on voting day.
The NDC boycotted the IPAC meeting called by the EC, saying the EC is imposing the reforms on political parties without proper consultation. The director of elections for the NDC, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah said in a press conference the NDC rejects the new proposals to change closing time on voting day and blames the EC chair Jean Mensah for organising what he called the ‘worse elections’ in the history of the fourth republic, citing the killing over more than 7 people on Dec 7 2020 during the election collation in Tachiman South.
The NDC also does not understand why all parties at IPAC have the same voting rights when it is that smaller parties only serve as proxies to the two main political parties – NDC/NPP.
But the ruling NPP has dismissed the argument of the NDC, saying if they have a case, they must make it at the IPAC forum rather than boycotting the forum while taking to the media. The EC has said that ‘all parties’ at IPAC agreed to their new proposals for reforms but it is obvious that this is going to be a long road to 2024.
It will be recalled that the EC boss decided to announce the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections within 24hrs rather than the stipulated 48hrs. However, that did not work out because after 24hrs, she was not ready to announce the results.