Presiding Officers, Not Police Must Command Polling Station – IEA

The Institute of Economic Affairs is calling for more powers to be vested in the Presiding Officers over and above the security personnel at the various polling stations during elections.

The recommendation which is part of the Electoral Reform Project being championed by the Institute in conjunction with political party representatives and other election stakeholders said security at the polling station must be under the command of the presiding officer and not the security personnel.

In a statement copied to Dr Ransford Gyampo, a senior Research Fellow at the Institute and a political Science Lecturer at the University of Ghana said the recommendation, in part, would prevent the possibility of incumbents using the police and other security agencies to intimidate prospective voters at the polling stations during elections.

“In the view of the IEA, it is reasonable for any well meaning and level-headed Ghanaian to anticipate that the Regional or District Security Committees (REGSEC/DISEC) as constituted with political heads (Regional Ministers and MMDCEs) as chairs, would have difficulties dealing fairly and firmly with security issues and electoral crimes, especially where they themselves are candidates in an election.

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“In other words, when an electoral offense occurs at the polling station, there would certainly be a conflict of interest situation where a DCE who is also contesting to be an MP is also the chairperson of the DISEC (especially when the culprit is a supporter of the incumbent DISEC Chairperson),” Dr Gyampo stated.

Closely related to this recommendation, the IEA says all election related offenses must be prosecuted by the police without explicit instruction from the Attorney General.

Dr Gyampo further noted that “Section 46 of Act 284, of the Representation of the Peoples Act, which requires the written consent of the Attorney-General, before prosecution of persons involved in electoral offences should be amended to allow the Police to carry out prosecution of all electoral offences.”

“The EC guidelines on voter education and electoral offences must be published and incorporated into the training and education programmes of all election officials, the statement indicated.

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