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Majority of journalists, security personnel can’t vote under special voting

File photo: A military officer voting

The majority of journalists and security personnel will not be able to vote under the special voting despite submitting their names for same. 

This is because their details are missing from the Electoral Commission’s list of special voters.

Special voting is held days before the general election for journalists, security service personnel, and other categories of persons who by virtue of their duties may not be able to vote on election day.

Ghana’s election management body has scheduled December 1 for this year’s special voting.

But with a few days to the general elections, thousands of Ghanaians eligible to participate in the special voting cannot find their names on the list released by the Electoral Commission (EC).

The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) which was tasked with the responsibility of compiling the names of its members who wanted to partake in the special voting said its members would have no option other than vote on December 7.

“Once the list was published, the EC didn’t have to tell us that if you didn’t get the chance to vote on the 1st, the next thing will be for you to vote on December 7. The point is, the list was published, and it was not as though we were given the list earlier.

“There was no provisional list otherwise, we’d have seen the anomalies and had it rectified. It’s not the best that journalists can’t vote early because I have had a personal experience as a journalist and the inconvenience wasn’t a good thing,” the General Secretary of the GJA, Kofi Yeboah said on an Accra-based radio station.

On the part of the Ghana Police Service, most of its men and women could not find their names also on the list.

File photo: Police officer casting his ballot

PRO of the service, Superintendent Shiela Abayie-Buckman while absorbing some of the blame, wondered what might have gone wrong when they submitted their list to the EC.

“It’s not everybody’s name which has appeared on the special voting list. There are some whose names have not appeared. We recognize the fact that some problems might have come from us. We do not know what problems might have come from the Electoral Commission.”

Speaking on the alternative arrangement made for personnel of the police service, Superintendent Abayie-Buckman said “the IGP instructed all officers; men and women, whose names did not appear to submit their names by the normal chain of communication within the police service.

“This is not the first time it is happening. We wish that it wouldn’t have happened, but we have a contingency plan,” she revealed.

Prisons Service

The situation was not any different for men and women of the Prisons service.

It’s PRO, Courage Akyem, said the service was “exploring various and other means to ensure everybody is able to exercise his franchise”.

According to him, the service is considering doing its deployment on election day in a manner in which its officials can vote in their respective constituencies.

Electoral Commission blames institutions for the mishap

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission (EC) has laid the blame at the doorstep of the various institutions tasked to provide the list for special voting.

Director of Electoral Services at the commission, Dr. Serebour Quaicoo said there is nothing the EC could do about the challenge.

“Once we have finished capturing the registers, we cannot capture them so those whose names did not appear on the special voting list will have to vote on December 7.”

Dr. Quaicoo believes the security services failed to submit the names of all its officers.

“If you did not submit your name, we can’t capture you. I told you all those who submitted their names have been captured. As for the GJA, they know the problem, and I wouldn’t want to speak to it.

“We met them about three days ago, and they know what they did so I wouldn’t want to talk about it.”

A total of 109,552 security personnel can take part in the early voting on December 1.

Previous incidents

The issue of early voting and the case of missing names has become a usual occurrence every four years when Ghana goes to the polls.

In the 2016 elections which were chaired by former EC Boss, Charlotte Osei, the election management body had assured of its preparedness for the special voting exercise, but the situation was totally different at designated polling stations.

Hundreds of security officials, electoral commission staff, and media personnel showed up at their polling stations and were unable to find their names on the voters’ register.

File photo: Security Service personnel in a queue to vote during special voting

They were given the runaround by the EC and were told by presiding officers to go where they originally registered to cast their votes.

Over 127,000 people were expected to take part in the exercise, but with reports from across the country, it appeared quite a number of the early voters could not vote on that day.

Some of the security officials threatened to leave their post and go vote on election day, December 7, if they could not vote during the special voting exercise.

 

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