Monday, September 29, 2008

Electoral Officers sceptical about photo-taking exercise

     Electoral Officers at various photo exhibition centres in Sunyani Municipality were sceptical about the Electoral Commission's (EC) ability to provide photographs for all eligible voters for Election 2008.
     They attributed their concerns to poor publicity and prospective voters' inability to identify photo-taking centres.
     During a tour of some centres during the just-ended photo-taking exercise in the Municipality, by Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Thursday, it was realised that the turn up of eligible voters was very poor.
     At Ahenboboano photo centre in Sunyani, as at 1415 hours on Tuesday only 150 out of the total 400 registered voters expected to take their photographs had turned up.
     Mr Isaac Mensah, Electoral Officer at the centre said available statistics indicated that it would be very difficult for the Commission to capture the number of voters expected to take their photographs.
     "The total number of voters recorded daily was not encouraging," he said and appealed for the re-opening of the exercise with effective publicity and awareness creation.
     At Twene Amanfo centre, Mrs Doris Gyawula, Electoral Officer, described the attendance as "not very encouraging."
     She said the centre was able to take photographs of about 950 out of the expected total number of 1,890 voters.
     Mrs Gyawula said attendance was very poor until the late hours of Tuesday when most voters rushed there claiming they had just been informed about the exercise.
     She said the situation put a lot of pressure on the staff who had to extend the closing time of 1800 hours to 1930 hours on Wednesday.
     Mrs Gyawula said materials for the exercise at the centre got finished and they were not able to operate the following day, which was the last day of the exercise.
     "All those who came to the centre were directed to take their photographs at another centre because materials were not available," she added.
     Mrs Gyawula said "when we called office of the Electoral Commission, we were informed there were no materials. We had no option than to direct the people to other centres." 
     She noted that some of the eligible voters who thronged to the centre for their photographs forgot the names they used during the registration exercise and that made it difficult for them to trace their names, saying that was the main problem they encountered during the exercise.
     A cross-section of eligible voters interviewed expressed concern about the manner in which the exercise was conducted and most of them seemed to have lost interest in obtaining the voter identity cards.
     Mr Ibrahim Usman, an eligible voter, said "he was fed up and would not get time to chase for his identity card."
     "I reported at Twene Amanfo exhibition centre around 0200 hours on Wednesday morning and directed to another centre for the photograph, but at the centre, I was informed the camera battery was down and since then I have not seen the cameraman again," he added.
     He expressed concern about activities of the Electoral Commission "for not learning from experience during the registration exercise to provide enough materials for the photo exhibition exercise."

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