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Voting took place in classrooms-CSOs observer team reveals


Preliminary observations by a -17 member Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on yesterday’s district assembly and unit committee elections in 5 regions of the north has found a shocking and strange practices in Ghana’s electoral process.

The strange phenomenon according to the team was that voting took place in a classrooms instead of voting screen in Yapei Kusawgu constituency of the Savanna region.

This phenomenon, the team noted was witnessed in 1992 and they did not understand how it managed its way back into elections of 2019.

The 17-member delegation led by the NORSAAC who visited 90 polling stations in 9 constituencies in the 5 regions want the electoral commission to pay serious attention to the issue before 2020 general elections.

The EC officials explanations the team said were that, central Gonja district EC office ran-out of voting screens.

Briefing the media on the CSOs observations in Tamale, the Gender and Governance Manager at NORSAAC, Abubakari Kawusada expressed concerns about the low turnout and the EC’s not attaching seriousness to the printing of the images of candidates.

The CSOs observed a wide spread of pictures used for two different candidates which led to delay of polls and also created disagreements among candidates.

Commended electorates for high level of comportment. The observer team also commended the EC officials for exhibiting high sense of professionalism during the process.

The team described the elections as male dominated due to low representation of women but expressed satisfaction on the treatment meted out PWDs.



Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
The 1992 Constitution, under chapter 20 provides an elaborate guarantee for the
establishment, practice and development of a decentralized local government
administration system. The Local Government ACT, 2016, (ACT 936) and other related
constitutional instruments further provide for and regulate the framework within which the
system operates. Since 2010, there have been notable developments in the local governance
system in Ghana. The creation of additional assemblies and district capitals, the upgrade of
some assemblies to municipal and metropolitan status, the reduction of the number of
unit committee members and concepts for enhancing citizen participation such as social
accountability among others are some of the contemporary developments.
Despite the abortion of the referendum to amend article 55(3) of the constitutions, the scheduled
date proposed by the Electoral Commission of Ghana for the election of assembly and unit
committee members survived. We are here today to brief the media on the preliminary
observations we made on December 17, 2019 when the nation embarked on that important
assignment of electing assembly and unit committee members for the various Metropolitan,
Municipal and District Assemblies.
Observation of the Elections
NORSAAC as done in previous elections, led CSOs observation in Northern, Savannah, North
East and Upper East Regions to observe the election process. A seventeen-member observation
team was duly constituted by NORSAAC to undertake the exercise. The Electoral Commission
of Ghana duly accredited the team to undertake the observation. The team visited 90 polling
stations in nine constituencies across the four regions of Northern Ghana. The team observed the
exercise in the following constituencies; Tamale Central, Tamale South, Tamale North,
Savelugu, Sagnerigu, Yapei Kusawgu , Yagaba Kubori, Bolga East and Bolga Central.
General Observation and Rating of Polls
In general, the 2019 district level elections was characterized by great comportment on the part
of electorates and high level of professionalism on the part of the staff of the EC. However, low
voter turnout was observed. For example, at Hassania Primary in Nyanshegu Electoral Area
(Tamale North), as at 3pm, 14 people had voted out of 729 expected to cast their votes. Another
general observation was that the EC did not attach seriousness to the printing of the images of
candidates. The issue of the same picture used for two different candidates was observed. It was also observed that the areas that recently held the regional re-organisation referendum
comparatively had some high voter turnout compared to the areas that did not hold the
referendum. The low representation of women in the contest was highly unfortunate. NORSAAC
could generally describe the elections as male dominated.
Some Major Issues Observed
The team of observers reported areas of great compliance of electoral rules and respect for the
rule of law during the exercise including the following;
Opening of Polls
Even though there were reported cases of late start of polls in some areas, most polling stations
observed were set up and ready for voting before 7:00am. In the Napkanzoo Electoral area
(Tamale South) for example, polling stations were set up and ready for voting by 6:30am.
Support for PWDs
A highly commendable observation was the treatment meted out to PWDs. The team observed
that PWDs were given very befitting treatments at the polling stations. Except in few cases, the
polling station set-ups were disability friendly. This must be sustained in the December, 2020
general elections and beyond.
Neutrality of Electoral Officials
The electoral commission must be commended for professional training handed their staff. They
exhibited great deal of neutrality in the process. From start of polls till the end, there was little or
no misconduct on their part as reported by the observation team. This must be sustained moving
into the general elections in December, 2020.
Ladies and gentlemen, despite the positive observations that deserve commendations, the team
also deem it necessary to speak to the media of some observations that were below the line.
These include the following;
Pictures and Positions of Candidates on Ballot Papers
The pictures of both assembly member aspirants and that of unit committee aspirants were
printed in black and white. In some cases, the pictures were so dark that it was difficult to
recognize a candidate by face. The swapping of positions of candidates on ballot papers in some
electoral areas created confusions and tensions. In some polling stations in the Tamale Central
Constituency, the positions of candidates were changed during the final printing, different from
the positions they initially balloted. In some places in the Tamale North also, wrong names were assigned some candidates. At Kuga Fong No. 1 polling station in Savelugu, a candidate’s image
appeared twice replacing a fellow candidate.
Equipment and Voting Materials
A strange observation in the Yapei Kusawgu Constituency was the issue of voting in classroom
due to unavailability of voting screens. This phenomenon was last witnessed in 1992 but
managed to find its way into the 2019 district assembly elections. In addition, the scare of
abusing the manual verification forms also disenfranchised some voters since few or no copies
were provided to electoral officers. In some polling stations with over 600 voters, only few or no
manual verification forms were provided. The presiding officers sometimes referred the voters to
other polling stations to “beg” manual verification forms to be completed for them. A typical
observation was made at the Ihyaayideen A Polling Station in Tamale South, where a voter who
could not be verified electronically was asked to look for the manual verification form
Security at the Polling Stations
There was poor security presence at almost every polling station. In over 20 polling stations,
there was no security personnel present. This could be very dangerous for areas where counting
extends into dark hours. In an electoral area in the Tamale North for example, a cluster of four
polling stations had no single security person present. NORSAAC considers this as unfortunate
but also express delight in the great civility of the electorates to vote orderly without heavy
NORSAAC sends congratulatory messages to all winners, especially women candidates
everywhere in Ghana who have made it. We particular encourage women who did not win to
keep up the spirit; we are proud of them. Finally, we extend our appreciation to STAR Ghana
Foundation for funding “The Referendum We Want Project”, which supported the observation
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.
Thank you
Gender and Governance Manager:
Abubakari Kawusada,
Tel: 0501302998/0501302993. / danaa@norsaac


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