The Electoral Commission (EC) has described as misleading claims by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that it is secretly printing some 150,000 extra ballot papers in an attempt to rig the upcoming December 7 elections.
The EC explained that in agreement with political parties, it is mandated, since 1992, to print an extra five per cent of the ballot sheets for each polling station which will in turn solve the possible cases of spoilt ballots.
The Commission in a statement noted that the NDC is aware of the practice, as all political parties have accredited agents in all the printing houses who monitor and keep a 24-hour watch of the printing process.
It has therefore entreated the public to disregard the comment, saying it part of the “attempts by the NDC to cause fear and panic and heighten tension in the lead up to the December 2020 Elections.”
How ballot paper is printed
The Commission explained: “It is important to note that since 1992, ballot papers for both the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections are printed in booklets of 10, 25, 50 and 100 for all Polling Stations. As such a Polling Station that has for example 90 voters will be provided with a ballot booklet that contains 100 ballots or two booklets of 50 ballots each as a special booklet cannot be printed for that exact number of Voters i.e. 90 Voters.”
“This is the situation that pertains in several Polling Stations. This cannot be avoided because it is impossible to print separate booklets for each Polling Station based on the number of registered voters at that particular Polling Station,” the EC added.
The Commission noted that with the level of transparency and openness involved, it is impossible for any Printing House to manipulate and compromise the process.
“The Commission assures the citizenry that each ballot paper will be accounted for. Not one ballot paper will be included in a package that has not been accounted for. This will not happen. Our processes are open, transparent and robust and will remain so,” it assured.
On the allegation of the EC not providing political parties with the serial numbers of the ballot papers, it explained that the Commission has never provided political parties with serial numbers of ballot papers.
“The Commission cannot generate the serial numbers of all 17 million plus ballot papers. As has been the practice, serial numbers are generated by the Printing Houses and are provided to both the Commission and Political Parties after each batch of printing is completed,” the statement explained.
The EC pointed out that as standard practice, after the printing for each polling station’s ballots is completed, the ballots are bagged based on the serial numbers. The serial numbers are then provided to the Commission and Political Parties to enable a tracking and monitoring of the distribution of the ballots.
“The packaged/bagged ballots are sealed by both the Electoral Commission and Political Parties. Indeed, each Political Party fixes their party seals on the packaged ballot papers. The Political Parties take a record of all seal numbers of each packaged ballot. The packing of the ballots is undertaken in the presence of all the Agents of the Political Parties,” it explained.
“On the Election Day, the Political Parties certify all serial numbers on each packaged ballot before the ballots are opened. The serial numbers are also recorded on the Statement of Poll before Voting commences,” the EC noted.
The Commission has therefore condemned the NDCs effort to cause fear and apprehension about the process, saying “it is unacceptable.”