Home News Ghana Federation of Labour worried about the EC proposal to shorten voting period

Ghana Federation of Labour worried about the EC proposal to shorten voting period

Electoral Commission

The Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) has expressed concern over a proposal by the Electoral Commission (EC) to change the closing of voting time from 17:00 hours to 15:00 hours in the upcoming 2024 general election and subsequent ones.

The GFL urged the EC to provide further and better particulars about the intended amendments to the electoral system, especially on voting.

A statement jointly signed by Mr. Abraham Koomson and Mr. Caleb Nartey, Secretary General and President, respectively, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tema, noted that “the EC has so far not provided any convincing scientific justification for the reduction of the voting period from 10 hours to eight hours.

The GFL strongly kicks against the reduction of the voting hours, describing it as a “dangerous experiment” in the upcoming election.

According to the GFL, 2024 elections were crucial as stakes were high and tied to the peace and security of the country.

“A presidential winner in Ghana must obtain not less than 50 percent plus one of the total valid votes, which means every vote counts.

“But when a system is created for potential confusion on an election day, whereby potential electorates, mostly first-time voters, may have to struggle to find their polling stations, this plan to close at 15:00 hours could potentially disenfranchise thousands,” the GFL noted.

According to the GFL and the EC, the electorates and the political parties, and stakeholders, must learn lessons from Election 2008, when Ghana narrowly escaped political turmoil because, at one point, the results were too close to call.

“It’s also our understanding that political parties were not thoroughly consulted by the EC on the proposed amendment on the closure of voting decisions. This suggests there is no buy-in yet.

“We have followed publications indicating stakeholders, including the ruling party, are already expressing scepticism.

“Given the existing controversy over the handling of the 2020 general election and the potential impact on how parties react towards the pending elections,” the GFL stated.

The GFL called for immediate roundtable consultations with critical stakeholders, including the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), governance think tanks, and CSOs, to scrutinise the EC’s assessment regarding realities in difficult-to-reach communities.

The broad stakeholder consultation must also scrutinise the EC’s recent data-capturing measures, especially the potential chaos over the location of polling stations by those recently captured during the limited voter registration process.

The GFL also called for issues on the outstanding registration exercise and clarion calls to expand centres for easy identification of polling stations and voting centres.

The GFL also stated that the application of indelible ink to check multiple votes must continue until sole reliance on verification devices is proven to be effective and the process is acceptable to stakeholders.

The Federation called on the EC to abandon its plan to use the upcoming district elections for another level of piloting because of the potential incredibly low turnout, which will not reflect realities expected during general elections, as in the case of 2024, in which stakes are exceedingly high.

The GFL also urged the EC to critically consider vote patterns in difficult-to-reach areas where declarations of results always delay—cases of late starts or queues after 17:00 hours—and guarantee to address causes to ensure potential votes from such areas are not lost out.

The federation also called on the EC to revert to Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) structures and conventions with guarantees to build confidence to enhance buy-ins into reforms.

“Our Federation strongly believes the Commission is fully aware of the polarised political environment and accusing fingers pointed at it for some actions that many see as unconstitutional, depriving electorates of their legitimate rights amidst suspicions of biases influenced by some controversial appointments,” the GFL said.

According to GFL, “we hope that, at this crucial stage in our democratic dispensation, we do not make avoidable mistakes and build lost confidence in the electoral system to sustain the peace we enjoy today.”

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