In exercise of the powers conferred on the Electoral Commission by Article 51 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the Public Elections Regulations, 2016 (C.I. 94), were made on the 7th of July, and backed by Parliament to regulate the parliamentary and presidential elections on December 7, 2016.
These Regulations apply to presidential and parliamentary elections with the necessary modifications to other public elections that the Electoral Commission referred to in these Regulations as ‘the Commission’ may conduct.
On the 7th of December, the poll shall be taken between the hours of 7 o’clock in the morning and 5 o’clock in the evening. A voter who arrives at a polling station after 5pm shall not be allowed to vote.
C.I. 94 states that the presiding officer shall maintain order at the polling station assigned to him/her. The presiding officer may authorise a security officer to immediately remove from a polling station a person who behaves in a manner that disrupts proceedings at the polling station or who fails to obey the lawful orders of the presiding officer, and that person shall not be allowed to enter the polling station on the polling day without the permission of the presiding officer.
It also stipulates that a person who has been removed from a polling station may, if charged with the commission of an offence, be dealt with as a person taken into custody by a police officer for an offence without a warrant.
It however, enunciates that the powers conferred by this Regulation shall not be exercised to prevent a voter who is entitled to vote at a polling station from having the opportunity to vote at that station.
On the issue of Identification and Verification of Voters, C.I. 94 states that a polling station Assistant may, before delivering a ballot paper to a person who is to vote at the election, requires that person to produce a voter identification card in order to establish that the person is the registered voter whose name and voter identification number and particulars appear in the Register.
It adds that in the absence of a Voter Identification Card, the polling assistant shall identify the name and particulars of the voter as recorded in the name reference list. The polling assistant shall scan the barcode of the voter in order to establish by facial recognition the identity of the voter.
It continues that the voter shall go through a biometric verification process through the use of the biometric verification device. Where the biometric verification device fails to verify a registered voter and the red light is shown with a voice message “REJECTED”, the polling station assistant shall inform the agents of the political parties present at the polling station, complete a Verification Form, as set out in Form Seven of the Schedule in the presence of the party’s candidate or agent, and hand over the completed Verification Form to the Verification Officer.
It further states that the verification officer shall draw a horizontal line across the voter’s barcode in the register to indicate that the voter has been manually verified. At the end of the voting and before counting of the ballots, the number of persons manually verified shall be entered in the second box in C6 on the Statement of the Poll and Declaration of Results Form as set out in Form Eight of the Schedule.
On the issue of damaged Ballot Papers, C.I. 94 also stipulates that a voter who inadvertently deals with a ballot paper given to the voter in a manner that the ballot paper can no longer be used as a ballot paper, shall deliver the damaged ballot paper to the presiding officer. He/she should also prove to the satisfaction of the presiding officer that the ballot paper was inadvertently damaged, and obtain another ballot paper in place of the damaged ballot paper delivered to the presiding officer. The damaged ballot paper shall be immediately cancelled and the counterfoil marked accordingly.
As regards the Interruption or obstruction of the Poll, C.I. 94 explains that where the proceedings at a polling station are interrupted or obstructed by riot or open violence, storm, flood, or other natural catastrophe, or the breakdown of an equipment, the presiding officer shall in consultation with the returning officer and subject to the approval of the Commission, adjourn the proceedings at the polling station to the following day.
It further states that if the returning officer is satisfied that, as a result of an occurrence, it is or will be impossible or impracticable for proceedings which have been adjourned to be continued on the day to which it has been adjourned, the returning officer shall, with the approval of the Commission, further adjourn the proceedings for not more than 7 (seven) days.
It adds that where a poll is adjourned, an account of the ballot papers provided to the station shall be taken, recorded and certified by the presiding officer in accordance with Form Nine of the Schedule and party agents and a copy given to the party agents.
It continues that the ballot box shall be sealed and the ballot box together with the remaining election materials shall be kept at the nearest police station for voting to continue on the adjourned date, and the hours of polling on the day to which it is adjourned shall be the same as on the original polling day.
With respect to Adjournment of the Poll, C.I. 94 enunciates that the Electoral Commission may, at any time between the issue of a writ and the day specified in the writ as polling day, adjourn the taking of the poll for a period of not more than 30 (thirty) days after the day specified earlier.
It also states that the Commission shall specify the reasons for the adjournment in the notice of adjournment and publish it in the Gazette. Where a notice is published in the Gazette, the writ for the constituency to which the notice relates shall be considered as amended by the substitution of the day to which the taking of the poll is adjourned for the day specified in the writ as polling day.
Parliament on the C.I. 94
Presenting the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation of Parliament, on the Public Elections Regulations, 2016, (C.I.94) on the floor of the House, chairman of the Committee, O.B. Amoah, informed Parliament that the Committee observed that various issues regarding the poll have been addressed in the Regulations. He added that one significant issue is the Identification and Verification of Voters under Regulation 32, stating that the Electoral Commission is proposing to adopt Biometric and Manual Verification of Voters. He also said that the Commission states that where the Biometric and Manual Verification Device fails to verify a registered voter, a Verification Form shall be completed by the presiding officer in the presence of the party’s candidate or agent to confirm that the voter was qualified to vote but could not be verified with the Biometric Verification Device. The Chairman quoted Regulation 32 (6), which stipulates that ‘the verification officer shall draw a horizontal line across the voter’s barcode in the register to indicate that the voter has been manually verified’, to support his presentation.
‘The Committee has carefully examined the Public Elections Regulations, 2016 (C.I. 94) and is of the considered view that the Constitutional Instrument does not contravene the provisions of the Constitution and Order 166 (3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament which served as reference to the Committee’, the Chairman said.
Attached is a full text of the C.I. 94. Below