Friday, December 12, 2008

NCCE to embark on education on rejected ballots

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) is to embark on a massive voter education drive to reverse the increasing number of rejected ballots during the December 28 run-off.
 Mrs. Augustina Akosua Akumanyi, Deputy Chairperson in-charge of Finance and Administration, NCCE, said the Commission had officially written to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to release funds for the education drive.
 "It is barely 17 days to time, we are therefore going to launch a massive media education campaign at national, regional, district and community level so that people do not repeat the same mistakes," she added.
 Speaking to the GNA in interview in Accra, Mrs Akumanyi noted that the number of rejected ballots (205,436) during the December 7, election was worrying, noting that if those rejected ballots had been added to the results there would have been no need for the run-off.
 In 1992, 64,354 votes representing 3.03 per cent were rejected while in 1996 a total of 111,108 ballots were rejected representing 1.53 per cent of 7,256,872 ballot cast.
     In Election 2000, the number of rejected ballots dropped to 104,214 representing 1.58 per cent of 6,605,084 ballot cast.
     In Election 2004, the total rejected ballots amounted to 188,123 representing 2.13 per cent of 8,813,908 ballots cast while in Election 2008 the total rejected ballot is 205,438 representing 2.4 per cent of 8,671,272 votes cast.
     Commenting on the December 7, 2008 figures, Mrs Akumanyi attributed it to the way and manner the ballot papers were folded and the confusion over dipping of the small finger into indelible ink before voting.
 She said some of the voters, after their little fingers were dipped into the ink, unknowingly used the same to stamp the ballot papers.
 Mrs Akumanyi stressed the need for polling assistants to educate voters on how to handle ballot papers and ink as well as the use of the thumb.
 "Polling assistants should fold ballot papers horizontally and leave it at that."
 According to her, voter education fell under the mandate of the Electoral Commission, while the NCCE was to preach the messages of peace, voting rights and conflict during and after elections.
 "Voter education falls under the mandate of the EC and the NCCE is complementing the EC's effort," she added.
 "We need to change our electoral laws so that the voting time for example could commence from 0600 and end at 1600 hours in order that counting could also begin."
 Mrs Akumanyi said the NCCE had been informed by the EC that during the December 28, run-off the left index finger was now going to be dipped into the ink and the Commission's education drive was going to be geared in that direction.
 Mrs Akumanyi urged the EC to work toward reducing the long queue at polling stations by dividing the centres.
 On voter turnout, Mrs. Akumanyi described it as very disappointing, saying in a survey conducted by NCCE in April this year respondents said they were going to vote massively but they failed to do so.
 "I am surprised that this year's turnout was only 69.52 per cent," she remarked. Out of the 12,472,750 registered voters, 8,671,272 cast their votes in last Sunday's elections.
 Mrs. Akumanyi urged voters to come out and show solidarity with their leaders in the run-off.
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