The opposition NDC says the Electoral Commission proposal for polls to close at 3pm instead of the conventional 5pm is poorly thought through and completely unreasonable. According to the EC the move The move is to help pave the way for early counting of votes and declaration of results at the polling station, and to avoid the inconveniences associated with the late close of polls. It was part of a list of reforms the EC proposed as part of a 16-point proposal) that was agreed on by the Interparty Advisory Committee (IPAC) at the end of a two-day review workshop of the 2020 general elections in Accra.
Addressing a news conference to response to the EC’s list of proposals and explain why the party boycotted the workshop, director of Elections for the NDC Elvis Afriyie Ankrah argued that the status should remain because it has served the voters well.
“The NDC finds the proposal by the Jean Mensah led EC to change the closing time of polls from 5 pm to 3pm in 2024 baffling and mind boggling. Since the 1992 elections, polls have always closed at 5pm. This has worked perfectly without any challenges whatsoever. It’s therefore beggars’ belief that the EC would want to change this time tested arrangement and go for a poorly thought through alternative which is bound to disenfranchise eligible voters and create needless problems for our electoral system. This is particularly so given the undue delay we usually record in the delivery of electoral materials to some polling stations and other technical challenges that usually charaterise voting in this country”.
He added ”Even with the 5 O’clock there are instances in some parts of the country that because materials did not arrive early, voting continued beyond the 5 O’clock , machines got spoilt etc., so many and its being going on consistently. And then now you want to close at 3 O’clock. Ghana is not Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. In some of the rural areas, the poor farmers they have to go to the farm, get some food for the day, before they come and vote. So you create a situation where you are going to create unnecessary panic, tension and confusion. Is this necessary at this time”?
Mr. Afriyie Ankrah recounted how the EC failed to meets its own deadline to declare results within 24 hours after close of poll after it paid no heed to interest groups and the NDC which warned that the timeline was not realistic.
“Ghanaian will recall how a similar hasty decision by the EC to declare results within 24 hours after closure of polls in 2020 elections failed miserably and led to the rushed declaration of a patently flawed result that yielded a percentage aggregate of more than 100% by the returning officer, Madam Jean Adukwei Mensah. One would have thought that Jean Mensah would have learnt the right lessons by now but that appears not to be the case”.
The NDC Director of Elections said the EC was opening itself up for speculations about a possible plot to disenfranchise some voters.
“Friends from the media, our proposition on this proposal is simple; the current arrangement of closing polls at 5pm has worked perfectly in seven (7) general elections in this country and does not require any fixing. And to quote her, she said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! So if the 5pm hasn’t caused us any problems over the past seven elections, why do you want to change it? For what purpose? Is it an attempt to create the situation where if materials delay in the stronghold of some parties, 3 O’clock, they say they’ve closed, so you disenfranchise some people? They are the ones who open room for people to speculate because it’s a completely unreasonable proposition”.